Morphological changes of rat astrocytes induced by liver damage but not by manganese chloride exposure

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Liver cirrhosis is a common cause of death around the world. One of its more severe complications is hepatic encephalopathy. As a consequence of liver impairment, manganese (Mn) and other substances accumulate in the brain. Astrocytic morphological changes have been found in postmortem brains of cirrhotic patients. In this study we used a model of cirrhosis induced by bile duct ligation and Mn accumulation by exposing rats to MnCl2 (1 mg Mn/ml) in their drinking water. Four experimental groups were used: Sham, Sham plus Mn treatment, BDL (bile duct ligated) and BDL plus Mn treatment. Brain Mn was measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometry in cortex, striatum and globus pallidus. Altered and normal astrocytes were counted in the same brain areas. Brain Mn was highest in rats of the BDLMn group. An increased number of altered astrocytes was found only in BDL groups, Mn did not modify this effect. No changes were found in the total number of astrocytes. According to our results, biliary obstruction induced an increase in the number of altered astrocytes since early stages of cirrhosis and Mn did not affect this effect.

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