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Portal hypertension in cirrhosis Pathophysiological mechanisms and therapy



YasukoIwakiri, JonelTrebicka


Portal hypertension, defined as increased pressure in the portal vein, develops as a consequence of increased intrahepatic vascular resistance due to the dysregulation of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) and hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), frequently arising from chronic liver diseases. Extrahepatic haemodynamic changes contribute to the aggravation of portal hypertension. The pathogenic complexity of portal hypertension and the unsuccessful translation of preclinical studies have impeded the development of effective therapeutics for patients with cirrhosis, while counteracting hepatic and extrahepatic mechanisms also pose a major obstacle to effective treatment. In this review article, we will discuss the following topics: i) cellular and molecular mechanisms of portal hypertension, focusing on dysregulation of LSECs, HSCs and hepatic microvascular thrombosis, as well as changes in the extrahepatic vasculature, since these are the major contributors to portal hypertension; ii) translational/clinical advances in our knowledge of portal hypertension; and iii) future directions.

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