Ischemia/reperfusion-induced increase in the hepatic level of prostacyclin is mainly mediated by activation of capsaicin-sensitive sensory neurons in rats

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Capsaicin-sensitive sensory neurons are nociceptive neurons that release calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) on activation by various noxious stimuli. CGRP has been shown to increase the endothelial production of prostacyclin, which reduces ischemia/reperfusion (I/R)-induced liver injury. Therefore, if the sensory neurons can be activated by the pathologic process of hepatic I/R, they might help ameliorate I/R-induced liver injury by promoting the endothelial production of prostacyclin, also known as prostaglandin I2. In this study, we examined these possibilities using a rat model of I/R-induced liver injury. Male Wistar rats were subjected to 60-minute hepatic ischemia and subsequent reperfusion. Hepatic levels of 6-keto-prostaglandin F (6-keto-PGF), a stable metabolite of prostacyclin, were significantly increased after hepatic I/R, peaking 1 hour after reperfusion. Administration of capsaicin and CGRP significantly enhanced I/R-induced increases in hepatic levels of 6-keto-PGF, increased hepatic-tissue blood flow after reperfusion, and inhibited the I/R-induced increase in tissue levels of both tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and myeloperoxidase. Capsazepine, a vanilloid receptor antagonist; CGRP(8-37), a CGRP-receptor antagonist; l-nitro-arginine-methyl-ester (l-NAME), a nonselective inhibitor of nitric oxide (NO) synthase (NOS); and indomethacin, a nonselective inhibitor of cyclooxygenase, inhibited the I/R-induced increases in hepatic tissue levels of 6-keto-PGF and decreased hepatic-tissue blood flow after reperfusion. These compounds significantly enhanced the I/R-induced increases in hepatic tissue levels of both TNF-α and myeloperoxidase. Although I/R-induced liver injury was significantly reduced by capsaicin and CGRP, it was exacerbated by capsazepine, CGRP(8-37), l-NAME, and indomethacin. Administration of aminoguanidine, a selective inhibitor of the inducible form of NOS, and NS-398, a selective inhibitor of cyclooxygenase-2, demonstrated no effects on the liver injury or the hepatic levels of 6-keto-PGF. These findings strongly suggest that the activation of the sensory neurons helps ameliorate I/R-induced liver injury both by increasing hepatic-tissue blood flow and by limiting inflammatory response through the enhancement of endothelial production of prostacyclin. In the sensory neuron-mediated enhancement of endothelial production of prostacyclin, CGRP-induced activation of both endothelial NOS and cyclooxygenase-1 may be critically involved. (J Lab Clin Med 2002;139:218-26)

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