Effects of nitric oxide synthesis inhibition in hyperdynamic endotoxemia

J. Meyer, C. W. Lentz, J. C. Stothert, L. D. Traber, D. N. Herndon, D. L. Traber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Objective: To investigate the effects of N(ω)-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. Design: Prospective, nonrandomized, controlled study, with repeated measurements. Setting: University research laboratory. Subjects: Twenty healthy adult sheep (weighing 20 to 45 kg) were divided into two groups of 12 treated sheep and eight control sheep and studied. Interventions: Twenty 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 N(ω)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (25 mg/kg), while the other eight animals (control group) received the carrier (0.9% NaCl). Measurements and Main Results: Twenty-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 N(ω)-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 N(ω)-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 N(ω)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester on the systemic circulation persisted for the remainder of the study. Conclusions: The data support the assumption that augmented nitric oxide production is a major cause of the hemodynamic alterations seen in hyperdynamic endotoxemia. Administration of the nitric oxide synthesis inhibitor N(ω)-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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-312
Number of pages7
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994



  • cardiac output
  • critical illness
  • endothelium-derived relaxing factor
  • endotoxin
  • hemodynamics
  • hyperdynamic
  • nitric oxide
  • oxygen consumption
  • sepsis
  • vascular resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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