Insulin resistance and liver microcirculation in a rat model of early NAFLD

Marcos Pasarín, Juan G. Abraldes, Aina Rodríguez-Vilarrupla, Vincenzo La Mura, Joan Carles García-Pagán, Jaime Bosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background & Aims: Insulin contributes to vascular homeostasis in peripheral circulation, but the effects of insulin in liver microvasculature have never been explored. The aim of this study was to assess the vascular effects of insulin in the healthy and fatty liver. Methods: Wistar rats were fed a control or a high fat diet (HFD) for 3 days, while treated with a placebo, the insulin-sensitizer metformin, or the iNOS inhibitor 1400W. Vascular responses to insulin were evaluated in the isolated liver perfusion model. Insulin sensitivity at the sinusoidal endothelium was tested by endothelium-dependent vasodilation in response to acetylcholine in the presence or absence of insulin and by the level of liver P-eNOS after an insulin injection. Results: Rats from the HFD groups developed liver steatosis. Livers from the control group showed a dose-dependent hepatic vasodilation in response to insulin, which was blunted in livers from HFD groups. Metformin restored liver vascular insulin-sensitivity. Pre-treatment with insulin enhanced endothelium-dependent vasodilation of the hepatic vasculature and induced hepatic eNOS phosphorylation in control rats but not in HFD rats. Treatment with metformin or 1400W restored the capacity of insulin to enhance endothelium dependent vasodilation and insulin induced eNOS phosphorylation in HFD rats. Conclusions: The administration of a HFD induces insulin resistance in the liver sinusoidal endothelium, which is mediated, at least in part, through iNOS upregulation and can be prevented by the administration of metformin. Insulin resistance at the hepatic vasculature can be detected earlier than inflammation or any other sign of advanced NALFD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1095-1102
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • iNOS
  • Insulin resistance
  • Sinusoidal endothelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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