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Lab Invest. 1979 Jan;40(1):55-65.

Glucocorticoid and antibiotic effects on hepatic microcirculation and associated host responses in lethal gram-negative bacteremia.


Liver changes and associated host responses were evaluated in four groups of male rats, weighing 300 +/- 20 gm., which received intravenous injection of 2.2 times 10(9) live Escherichia coli. This bolus was given either without additional treatment (group A) or prior to the following regimens: intramuscular injection of gentamicin sulfate, 5 mg. per kg. (group B); intravenous injection of methylprednisolone sodium succinate, 40 mg. per kg. (group C); and intramuscular injection of gentamicin immediately after methylprednisolone sodium succinate treatment (group D). Rats given injections of saline or methylprednisolone sodium succinate served as controls. Survival rates at 10 and 20 hours were 25 per cent and 4 per cent for group A; 44 per cent and 28 per cent for group B; 94 per cent and 70 per cent for group C; 98 per cent and 98 per cent for group D, respectively. In rats of groups A and B, killed at 1, 2, 4, and 6 hours, progressive liver changes included intravascular sequestration of rapidly degranulating leukocytes, fibrinous deposits, and platelet aggregates in sinusoids as well as in spaces of Disse adjacent to subendothelial collagen, and extensive Kupffer cell disruption in association with severe midzonal necrosis. These alterations were accompanied by progressive hypoglycemia and elevations of serum enzymes, glutamic pyruvic transaminase, lactate dehydrogenase, and glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase. Hematologic studies revealed that E. coli bacteremia results in rapid leukopenia and disseminated intravascular coagulation primarily due to activation of the intrinsic coagulation pathway. All above reactions were delayed and markedly reduced in rats treated with methylprednisolone sodium succinate. The results indicate that antibiotic treatment of lethal, Gram-negative bacteremia is effective only in conjunction with early steroid treatment. The protective effects of glucocorticoids on the liver microcirculation and polymorphonuclear leukocytes appear to play a basic role in preventing the early development of disseminated intravascular coagulation, hepatocellular necrosis, and associated major host responses, thereby attenuating lethality of gram-negative septic shock.

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