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Circulation. 1997 Nov 4;96(9 Suppl):II-346-51.

Dynamic changes of endothelin-1, nitric oxide, and cyclic GMP in patients with congenital heart disease.

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  • 1Section of Cardiothoracic Surgery, James W. Riley Hospital for Children and Indiana University Medical Center, Indianapolis 46202-5123, USA.



Pulmonary hypertension causes major morbidity and mortality after congenital heart surgery, but its mechanism remains unclear.


Plasma endothelin-1 (ET-1), nitric oxide (NO), and cyclic GMP (cGMP) were assayed at 6 intervals in 50 children undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB): before CPB, 10 minutes into CPB, and 0, 3, 6, and 12 hours after CPB. Three groups based on pulmonary flow and pressure were analyzed: low flow (LF, n=21), high flow/low pressure (systolic pulmonary pressure/systemic pressure ratio, Pp/Ps<50%, HF-LP, n=11), and high flow/high pressure (Pp/Ps> or =50%, HF-HP, n=19). HF-HP and HF-LP received alpha-blockers (chlorpromazine and/or prazosin). HF-HP patients received nitric oxide donors (nitroglycerin/sodium nitroprusside). ET-1 peaked at 6 hours, with its highest level in the HF-HP group (P<.01, by ANOVA). ET-1 correlated significantly with Pp/Ps at 6 hours (r2=.43, P<.005). In the HF-HP group, ET-1 remained above the other groups at 12 hours (12.7+/-2.5 pg/mL versus 6.4+/-1.1 pg/mL versus 6.5+/-3.8 pg/mL P<.05 by ANOVA). NO metabolites were elevated equivalently for the HF-HP and HF-LP groups (5.7+/-2.6 micromol/L versus 0.3.5+/-2.5 micromol/L at 12 hours, P=NS) despite nitric oxide donors and the excess ET-1 in HF-HP patients. Levels of cGMP were similarly elevated in HF-HP and HF-LP patients during this study.


Endogenous NO may decrease vascular tone and maintain low pulmonary pressure in HF-LP patients. High levels of ET-1, inadequate NO production, and/or impaired responses to NO may increase pulmonary pressure in HF-HP patients.

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