Spontaneous baroreflex cardiac sensitivity in end-stage liver disease: effect of liver transplantation

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Abstract

Background and objective:

End-stage liver disease is associated with an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system. The purpose of this study was to estimate the effect of liver transplantation on this imbalance.

Method:

The study involved 10 patients undergoing liver transplantation and 9 patients without liver impairment undergoing liver surgery. The spontaneous baroreflex sensitivity was measured before and 1 month after surgery for the liver surgery group; before and 1, 3, 6, 12 and 18 months after orthotopic liver transplantation.

Results:

The spontaneous baroreflex slope of patients with end-stage liver disease was decreased before liver transplantation compared to the liver surgery group (3.9 ± 2.5 ms mmHg−1 vs. 9.9 ± 5.0 ms mmHg−1, P = 0.002). The mean slope was significantly increased at 12 and 18 months compared to the pre-transplantation value (3.9 ± 2.5 ms mmHg−1 vs. 8.1 ± 6.6 ms mmHg−1 and 7.4 ± 4.8 ms mmHg−1, respectively; P = 0.042). Nevertheless, further analysis of individual data showed that only four patients exhibited a marked increase in their baroreflex slope 12 months after the liver transplantation whereas it remained decreased in the six others.

Conclusions:

These results confirm that the baroreflex sensitivity is depressed in end-stage liver disease in line with an autonomic nervous system imbalance. The liver transplantation reverses this disturbance only in some patients.

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