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This review describes recent progress in the accumulation of knowledge about the endothelins (ETs), a family of vasoactive 21-amino acid polypeptides, in chronic liver disease. Particular prominence is given to the dynamics of ET-1 and ET-3 and their possible relation to the disturbed circulation and neurohumoral dysregulation found in cirrhosis. Recent studies have shown that the ET system is highly activated in most cirrhotic patients. Circulating ET-1 and ET-3 levels have a positive relation to the severity of the disease and fluid retention, with the highest values recorded in patients with functional renal failure. Studies on liver biopsies have revealed synthesis of ET-1 in hepatic endothelial and other cells, and recent investigations have identified the hepatosplanchnic system as a major source of ET-1 and ET-3 spillover into the circulation, with a direct relation to portal venous hypertension. In addition, marked associations with disturbance of systemic haemodynamics and with abnormal distribution of blood volume have been reported. Although the pathophysiological importance of the ET system in chronic liver disease is not completely understood, similarities to other vasopressive and antinatriuretic regulatory systems (i.e. the sympathetic nervous system, renin-angiotensin-aldosterone and vasopressin) are apparent, with respect to kinetics and haemodynamic dysregulation. Cirrhosis seems to be a pathophysiological condition with indications of the occurrence of ETs, not only as local modulators, but also as a system with potential importance for systemic regulation.
Translated title of the contributionEndothelins in chronic liver disease.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Clinical & Laboratory Investigation
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)481-490
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 1996

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