Laboratory of Pharmacology, National Institute of Pediatrics, Mexico D.F. 04530, Mexico. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a common complication of cirrhosis, of largely reversible impairment of brain function occurring in patients with acute or chronic liver failure or when the liver is bypassed by portosystemic shunts. The mechanisms causing this brain dysfunction are still largely unclear. The need to avoid complications caused by late diagnosis has attracted interest to understand the mechanisms underlying neuronal damage in order to find markers that will allow timely diagnosis and to propose new therapeutic alternatives to improve the care of patients. One of the experimental approaches to study HE is microdialysis; this technique allows evaluation of different chemical substances in several organs through the recollection of samples in specific places by semi-permeable membranes. In this review we will discuss the contributions of microdialysis in the understanding of the physiological alterations in human hepatic encephalopathy and experimental models and the studies to find novel alternative therapies for this disease.