Continuous prazosin administration in cirrhotic patients: Effects on portal hemodynamics and on liver and renal function
Hepatic vascular resistance is influenced by alpha-adrenergic tone. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of continuous blockade of alpha-adrenoceptors with prazosin on hemodynamics, liver function, and renal function and whether the association of propranolol or furosemide enhances the portal pressure lowering effect of prazosin. Cirrhotic patients with portal hypertension were studied at baseline and after a 3-month course of prazosin (n = 18) or placebo (n = 10). No changes were observed in the placebo group. Prazosin decreased the hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG) while increasing hepatic blood flow. Liver function improved as shown by an increase in hepatic and intrinsic hepatic clearances of indocyanine green and galactose elimination capacity. A significant reduction in mean arterial pressure and systemic vascular resistance was associated with increases in plasma renin activity and aldosterone concentration and a decrease in glomerular filtration rate. The plasma volume increased significantly, and 6 patients developed edema. The association of propranolol (n = 8) but not furosemide (n = 7) to prazosin increased the reduction in HVPG and attenuated the increase in plasma renin activity. In cirrhotic patients, continuous prazosin administration reduces portal pressure and improves liver perfusion and function but favors sodium and water retention. The association of propranolol enhances the decrease in portal pressure, suggesting a potential benefit from this combined therapy.