Changes in the nuclei of astrocytes following portacaval shunting and portacaval transposition in the rat
Portacaval Shunt, Surgical
Structural abnormalities are found in the astrocytes of the dentate nuclei of animals after portacaval shunting (PCS). These changes are also found in man in association with portal-systemic encephalopathy. To investigate the relationship between portal-systemic shunting and hepatocellular dysfunction in the pathogenesis of these changes, PCS and protacaval transposition (PCT) were performed in rats. PCT diverts portal blood into the systemic circulation, but retains normal total hepatic blood flow by perfusion with systemic venous blood. Liver function and mass are better preserved than after PCS. Abnormal glial cells were found in 4.03% of animals following sham operation, 13.45% following PCT, and 19.09% following PCS. Both experimental groups differed significantly from control animals, and the number of abnormal cells was significantly higher after PCS than after PCT. These findings are in keeping with the hypothesis that hepatocellular dysfunction plays an important role in addition to portal-systemic shunting in the aetiology of the structural changes in the brain associated with hepatic encephalopathy.