Objectives: Reduced baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) is a frequent complication in end-stage liver disease, but the underlying mechanism is unknown. We investigated the mechanical and neural components of BRS. Increased nitric oxide (NO) production has been reported in end-stage liver failure. Based on earlier experiments, we hypothesised that enhanced endothelial function might affect baroreflex function. Therefore, we explored the relation between endothelial function and the components of BRS. Materials and methods: We enrolled 24 patients and 23 controls. BRS was determined by the spontaneous sequence method. Mechanical component was characterised by the distensibility coefficient (DC) of common carotid artery. Neural component was estimated as the ratio of integrated BRS and DC. Endothelial function was quantified by flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the brachial artery. Results: Integrated BRS was reduced in patients [7.00 (5.80–9.25) vs. 11.1 (8.50–14.80) ms/mmHg]. The mechanical component was not different in the two groups, whereas neural component showed significant reduction in patients (3.54 ± 1.20 vs. 4.48 ± 1.43 ms/10−3). FMD was higher in patients (9.81 ± 3.77 vs. 5.59 ± 1.36%). FMD and neural BRS were directly related in controls (r = 0.62), but inversely related in patients (r = –0.49). Conclusions: Baroreflex impairment in end-stage liver disease might be explained by deterioration of the neural component, while the mechanical component appears to be preserved. Endothelial NO may enhance BRS in health; however, central endothelial overproduction of NO likely contributes to the reduction of neural component of BRS in patients awaiting liver transplantation.
- End-stage liver disease
- baroreflex sensitivity
- carotid artery distensibility
- endothelial function
- non-selective betablocker usage
ASJC Scopus subject areas