Evaluation of selective liver denervation methods

G. Cucchiaro, Y. Yamaguchi, E. Mills, C. M. Kuhn, D. C. Anthony, G. D. Branum, R. Epstein, W. C. Meyers

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35 Scopus citations


This study compares four methods of hepatic denervation and defines the rate and physiological significance of reinnervation. Five groups of rats were prepared: 10 underwent orthotopic liver transplantation. In nine rats a 90% aqueous phenol solution was applied circumferentially to the portal vein. Thirteen rats underwent microsurgical denervation; 28 received different doses of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-HODA) administered as a single intraportal injection [50 (n = 10), 75 (n = 6), and 100 mg/kg (n = 6)]. Twelve rats were studied as controls. Rats were killed 1, 4, and 8 wk after surgery to determine liver tissue content of norepinephrine (NE). Changes in mean arterial pressure (MAP) in response to hepatic nerve stimulation, which was supramaximum in intensity and frequency, were measured before rats were killed. NE content in controls ranged from 121 to 204 ng/g and MAP increased by 30-38 mmHg after electrical stimulation. At 1, 4, and 8 wk after treatment the liver NE content was <1, 2.3, and 20.2 ng/g in the transplant group; <1, 2.7, 4.1 ng/g in the phenol group; and 17.2, <1, and 3 ng/g in the surgically denervated group. In the 6-HODA group, values were 18.9, 47, and 61.5 ng/g (50 mg/kg); 5.7, 20.2, and 15 ng/g (75 mg/kg); and 7.7, 2.5, and 17.5 ng/g (100 mg/kg). When the level of NE was undetectable, MAP increase after stimulation was 0-18% that of controls. When NE content was 15-23% of normal, MAP increased 49-62% regardless of the denervation technique. A normal increase in MAP was observed with liver NE content as low as 28-30%. This study demonstrates liver transplantation and phenol application are the most effective and reliable techniques for successful liver denervation. The recovery of a normal response to nervous stimulation is faster than the recovery of liver NE content and can possibly relate to a suprasensitivity of adrenergic receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G781-G785
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number5 22-5
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • 6-hydroxydopamine
  • Liver transplantation
  • Microsurgical denervation
  • Norepinephrine
  • Phenol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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