The hypoxemia of the hepatopulmonary syndrome may result from dilated intrapulmonary vascular segments. Knowledge of the size, density, and branching frequency of the lung capillaries might confirm this hypothesis and suggest that the pathogenesis may involve vascular dilatation or angiogenesis. To investigate these changes, the common bile duct of rats was tied off to cause biliary cirrhosis. Later (4 wk), the pulmonary vasculature of these animals was cast, and the casts were studied with scanning electron microscopy. In the ligated animals, evidence for enhancement of the bronchial to pulmonary circulation was found: cast vasa vasorum of the pulmonary arteries and cast bronchial veins emptying into pulmonary veins. Ligated animals had more adherent intracapillary cells per alveolus than the sham-operated animals. The diameters of all capillary beds were larger in the ligated animals. The alveolar capillary density was increased, but the branching frequency was not. A few areas suggesting angiogenesis were found. Induction of biliary cirrhosis enhances the pulmonary-systemic circulation, increases intracapillary adherent cells, capillary diameter, and density, and may be associated with angiogenesis.
- Copyright © 1997 the American Physiological Society