Gut 57:1300-1314 doi:10.1136/gut.2007.144584
  • Recent advances in basic science

Mechanisms of extrahepatic vasodilation in portal hypertension

  1. M Hennenberg,
  2. J Trebicka,
  3. T Sauerbruch,
  4. J Heller
  1. Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany
  1. Dr M Hennenberg, Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Bonn, Sigmund-Freud-Str. 25, D-53105 Bonn, Germany; Martin.Hennenberg{at}
  • Revised 13 March 2008
  • Accepted 9 April 2008
  • Published Online First 29 April 2008


In liver cirrhosis, abnormal persistent extrahepatic vasodilation leads to hyperdynamic circulatory dysfunction which essentially contributes to portal hypertension. Since portal hypertension is a major factor in the development of complications in cirrhosis, the mechanisms underlying this vasodilation are of paramount interest. Extensive studies performed in cirrhotic patients and animals revealed that this vasodilation is associated on the one hand with enhanced formation of vasodilators, and on the other hand with vascular hyporesponsiveness to vasoconstrictors. The latter phenomenon has been termed “vascular hypocontractility”. It is caused by a combination of different mechanisms and factors described in this review.


  • Competing interests: None.