Background: Portal hypertension is associated with altered intestinal motor and mucosal function. The aim of this study was to determine whether portal hypertension, per se, or in association with acute hemorrhagic shock, predisposes to the translocation of bacteria across the intestine. Methods: Translocation to both mesenteric lymph nodes and blood was compared in three groups of rats: portal-hypertensive (single-stage calibrated stenosis of portal vein), sham-operated, and unoperated controls. Half of the animals in each group were exposed to hemorrhagic shock. Results: In the basal state, translocation to both mesenteric lymph nodes (portal hypertension vs. sham vs. controls, 411.5 ± 119 vs. 151.1 ± 42.6 vs. 18.1 ± 12.6 colony-forming units [CFU]/g; P < 0.05) and blood (portal hypertension vs. sham vs. controls, 100% vs. 30% vs. 0% positive blood cultures; P < 0.05) was significantly increased in the portal-hypertensive animals. Furthermore, translocation was strikingly increased in these animals after hemorrhagic shock (mesenteric lymph node cultures, portal hypertension vs. portal hypertension with shock, 411 ± 119 vs. 1018.2 ± 372.2 CFU/g; P < 0.05). Conclusions: Portal hypertension promotes bacterial translocation, especially in relationship to acute hemorrhage. These findings may, in part, explain the susceptibility of patients with liver disease to sepsis of enteric origin.
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