Effects of nitric oxide synthesis inhibition in hyperdynamic endotoxemia

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ObjectiveTo investigate the effects of Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, an inhibitor of nitric oxide synthesis, on hemodynamics, gas exchange and oxygen transport in an ovine model of hyperdynamic sepsis.DesignProspective, nonrandomized, controlled study, with repeated measurements.SettingUniversity research laboratory.SubjectsTwenty healthy adult sheep (weighing 20 to 45 kg) were divided into two groups of 12 treated sheep and eight control sheep and studied.InterventionsTwenty awake, chronically instrumented sheep received a continuous infusion of endotoxin (10 ng/kg/min) over 48 hrs. Twenty-four hours after the start of the endotoxin infusion, 12 sheep (treatment group) received a bolus of the nitric oxide synthesis inhibitor Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (25 mg/kg), while the other eight animals (control group) received the carrier (0.9% NaCl).Measurements and Main ResultsTwenty-four hours after the start of the endotoxin infusion, both groups exhibited a hyperdynamic state with increased cardiac indices, decreased systemic vascular resistance indices, impaired oxygenation, and increased pulmonary shunt fractions. In both groups, oxygen delivery was significantly increased, while oxygen consumption remained virtually unchanged, resulting in a decreased oxygen extraction ratio. In the control group, the significant alterations in systemic hemodynamics, lung function and oxygen transport persisted for the remainder of the study. Administration of Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester normalized cardiac index and systemic vascular resistance index, increased mean arterial blood pressure, and decreased heart rate. Although oxygen delivery significantly decreased after administration of Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, oxygen consumption did not change, resulting in a normalization of oxygen extraction ratio. Despite a significant reduction of pulmonary shunt fraction, oxygenation did not improve. Pulmonary arterial pressure and pulmonary vascular resistance index showed a peak 2 hrs after administration of the nitric oxide synthesis inhibitor and then tended to decrease. In contrast, the effects of Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester on the systemic circulation persisted for the remainder of the study.ConclusionsThe data support the assumption that augmented nitric oxide production in a major cause of the hemodynamic alterations seen in hyperdynamic endotoxemia. Administration of the nitric oxide synthesis inhibitor Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester normalized the endotoxin-induced hyperdynamic state, but did not impair oxygen consumption, indicating adequate tissue perfusion of metabolically active organs. Inhibition of nitric oxide synthesis may be a therapeutic option in the treatment of hyperdynamic septic patients when conventional therapy fails to maintain a minimum of cardiovascular performance. (Crit Care Med 1994; 22:306–312)

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