O. ELHIBA, H. GAMRANI & S. AHBOUCHA Neurosciences, Pharmacology and Environment Unit, Faculty of Scineces Semlalia, Cadi Ayyad University, Marrakesh, Morocco Abstract Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a common neuropsychiatric complication of both acute and chronic liver failure. Whether brain structures located in strategic positions at the interface of blood-brain barriers such as the circumventricular organs (CVO) play a role in HE is not yet established. Among the CVO, the subcommissural organ (SCO) secretes a glycoprotein called Reissner's fiber (RF) which condenses and forms an ever-growing thread-like structure into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). In the present work we describe the secretory activity of the SCO and its serotonin(5-hydroxytryptamine; 5HT)ergic innervation in a model of minimal HE following bile duct ligation (BDL) in rats using immunohistochemistry with antibodies against RF and 5-HT. Four weeks after BDL surgery, our data show a significant rise of the RF immunoreactivity in all SCO areas compared with sham-operated controls. Moreover, significant RF-immunoreactive materials within the ependyma and inside the parenchyma close to the ventricular borders are also observed in BDL rats, but not sham controls. Increased RF material in cirrhotic rats seems to be under control of 5-HT innervation found to be significantly reduced in BDL rats compared to sham-operated controls. Reduced 5-HT innervation of ependymal structures reflects probably a general 5-HT system deficit in BDL rats where 5HTimmunoreactive neurons were significantly reduced within the nucleus of origin at the dorsal raphe nucleus of BDL rats compared with shams. Our data suggest possible alterations of the SCO secretory material in BDL rats which probably depend on changes of the 5-HT system. Increased RF materials known to exert neuroprotective and neurotransmitter recycling effects may be involved in the pathophysiology of HE. Keywords: hepatic encephalopathy. circumventricular organs, serotonin, Reissner’s fiber