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Circ Shock. 1991 Mar;33(3):156-63.

Dimethyl sulfoxide antagonizes hypotensive, metabolic, and pathologic responses induced by endotoxin.

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Research Service, VA Medical Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104.


There is evidence that free radical activity may be important in the development of endotoxemia. Dimethyl sulfoxide is a hydroxyl radical scavenger that readily penetrates cell membranes. Using the conscious, instrumented rat this study tests the ability of dimethyl sulfoxide to modify the course of endotoxemia by evaluating cardiovascular, metabolic, and tissue injury parameters for 4 hr after the toxic insult. Treatment with dimethyl sulfoxide (6.5 g/kg; i.p.) evoked significant decreases in cardiac output, stroke volume, and central venous pressure and increases in heart rate, systemic vascular resistance, mean aortic pressure, respiration rate, and concentrations of blood glucose and plasma lactate. Following endotoxin (40 mg/kg, i.v. LD90- 24 hr), dimethyl sulfoxide pretreatment blocked the early hypotensive episode but all other cardiovascular and respiratory responses to endotoxin were essentially unaltered. The pH, PO2, PCO2, and hematocrit were the same for both treated and untreated groups; however, dimethyl sulfoxide prevented the endotoxin-induced hypoglycemia and significantly attenuated the hyperlacticemia at 4 hr. The severe hemorrhagic intestinal pathology characteristic of this model of endotoxemia was not present in the dimethyl-sulfoxide-treated group. From these results we conclude that dimethyl sulfoxide caused significant cardiovascular alterations conducive to impaired systemic blood flow. However, when administered prior to endotoxin, dimethyl sulfoxide induced significant beneficial modifications in the course of endotoxemia despite few improvements in cardiovascular function. The data indicate that the hydroxyl radical may be a mediator of tissue injury in this model of endotoxemia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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