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Br J Pharmacol. 2003 Sep;140(1):91-6. Epub 2003 Aug 4.

Dexamethasone improves vascular hyporeactivity induced by LPS in vivo by modulating ATP-sensitive potassium channels activity.

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Dipartimento di Farmacologia Sperimentale, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Via D. Montesano, 49 80131 Napoli, Italy.


(1) Septic shock represents an important risk factor for patients critically ill. This pathology has been largely demonstrated to be a result of a myriad of events. Glucocorticoids represent the main pharmacological therapy used in this pathology. (2) Previously we showed that ATP-sensitive potassium (KATP) channels are involved in delayed vascular hyporeactivity in rats (24 h after Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) injection). In LPS-treated rats, we observed a significant hyporeactivity to phenylephrine (PE) that was reverted by glybenclamide (GLB), and a significant increase in cromakalim (CRK)-induced hypotension. (3) We evaluated the effect of dexamethasone (DEX 8 mg kg-1 i.p.) whether on hyporeactivity to PE or on hyperreactivity to CRK administration, in vivo, in a model of LPS (8 x 106 U kg-1 i.p.)-induced endotoxemia in urethane-anaesthetised rats. (4) DEX treatment significantly reduced, in a time-dependent manner, the increased hypotensive effect induced by CRK in LPS-treated rats. This effect was significantly (P<0.05) reverted by the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU38486 (6.6 mg kg-1 i.p.). (5) GLB-induced hypertension (40 mg kg-1 i.p.), in LPS-treated rats, was significantly inhibited by DEX if administered at the same time of LPS. (6) Simultaneous administration of DEX and LPS to rats completely abolished the hyporeactivity to PE observed after 24 h from LPS injection. (7) In conclusion, our results suggest that the beneficial effect of DEX in endotoxemia could be ascribed, at least in part, to its ability to interfere with KATP channel activation induced by LPS. This interaction may explain the improvement of vascular reactivity to PE, mediated by DEX, in LPS-treated rats, highlighting a new pharmacological activity to the well-known anti-inflammatory properties of glucocorticoids.

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