A possible increase in plasma norepinephrine by removal of the liver

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It has recently been suggested that the human liver plays an important role in clearing plasma norepinephrine, especially in restricting most of the norepinephrine to reach the systemic circulation from the gut.


We examined the changes in plasma catecholamine levels in a patient undergoing extracorporeal hepatic resection and 4 patients undergoing living-related orthotopic liver transplantation.


While the changes in plasma epinephrine levels were not necessarily consistent with the proposal that plasma catecholamine levels increase during the anhepatic period, plasma norepinephrine did show a transient increase in accordance with the anhepatic period in all cases. Although we could not rule out the increase in the inflow rate of norepinephrine into plasma, the interrupted hepatic elimination of norepinephrine, especially released from the gut, seemed to be partly responsible for the anhepatic period-associated increase in plasma norepinephrine.


The present finding might have the potential to improve perioperative management of patients undergoing extracorporeal hepatic resection and orthotopic liver transplantation.

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