Blockage of the afferent sensitive pathway prevents sympathetic atrophy and hemodynamic alterations in rat portal hypertension

Nahia Ezkurdia, Mar Coll, Imma Raurell, Sarai Rodriguez, Silvia Cuenca, Antonio González, Jaime Guardia, Rafael Esteban, Joan Genescà, María Martell

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Aims: Portal hypertension causes arterial vasodilation and sympathetic atrophy in the splanchnic area. We aimed to demonstrate a relationship between hemodynamic alterations and sympathetic atrophy by investigating a pathway from sensitive afferent signals to mesenteric sympathetic ganglia. Methods: Experiments were conducted in sham and portal vein ligated (PVL) adult and neonatal rats treated with vehicle or capsaicin. Hemodynamic parameters, and immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence and Western blot of different tissues were analysed. Results: cFos expression in the brain supraoptic nuclei was used to confirm abrogation of the afferent signal in capsaicin-treated PVL rats (effectively afferent blocked). Neonatal and adult PVL afferent blocked rats showed simultaneous prevention of hemodynamic alterations and sympathetic atrophy (measured by tyrosine hydroxylase expression in nerve structures of splanchnic vasculature). Not effectively afferent blocked rats showed none of these effects, behaving as PVL vehicle. All capsaicin treated animals presented loss of calcitonin gene-related peptide in superior mesenteric artery and ganglia, whereas neuronal nitric oxide synthase remained unaffected. Neuronal markers semaphorin-3A, nerve growth factor, its precursor and p75 neurotrophic receptor, were significantly over-expressed in the PVL sympathetic ganglia compared with sham, but not in effectively afferent blocked rats. Semaphorin-3A staining in mesenteric ganglia co-localized with vesicular acetylcholine transporter, but not with adrenergic, nitrergic and sensory axons, suggesting that semaphorin-3A might originate in preganglionic neurons. Conclusion: These results indicate that the nervous system has a central role in the genesis of the circulatory abnormalities of portal hypertension, and support that mesenteric sympathetic atrophy contributes to splanchnic arterial vasodilation. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1295-1305
JournalLiver International
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2012


  • Afferent sensitive signal
  • Capsaicin
  • Cirrhosis
  • Portal hypertension
  • Sympathetic atrophy


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