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Shock. 2011 Jan;35(1):28-34. doi: 10.1097/SHK.0b013e3181ec71ab.

Acute endotoxemia inhibits microvascular nitric oxide-dependent vasodilation in humans.

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Division of Clinical Pathophysiology, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, and University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Erratum in

  • Shock. 2011 Apr;35(4):436.


Nitric oxide (NO) is crucial for the microvascular homeostasis, but its role played in the microvascular alterations during sepsis remains controversial. We investigated NO-dependent vasodilation in the skin microcirculation and plasma levels of asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), a potent endogenous inhibitor of the NO synthases, in a human model of sepsis. In this double-blind, randomized, crossover study, microvascular NO-dependent (local thermal hyperemia) and NO-independent vasodilation (post-occlusive reactive hyperemia) assessed by laser Doppler imaging, plasma levels of ADMA, and l-arginine were measured in seven healthy obese volunteers, immediately before and 4 h after either a i.v. bolus injection of Escherichia coli endotoxin (LPS; 2 ng/kg) or normal saline (placebo) on two different visits at least 2 weeks apart. LPS caused the expected systemic effects, including increases in heart rate (+43%, P < 0.001), cardiac output (+16%, P < 0.01), and rectal temperature (+1.4°C, P < 0.001), without change in arterial blood pressure. LPS affected neither baseline skin blood flow nor post-occlusive reactive hyperemia but decreased the NO-dependent local thermal hyperemia response, l-arginine, and, to a lesser extent, ADMA plasma levels. The changes in NO-dependent vasodilation were not correlated with the corresponding changes in the plasma levels of ADMA, l-arginine, or the l-arginine/ADMA ratio. Our results show for the first time that experimental endotoxemia in humans causes a specific decrease in endothelial NO-dependent vasodilation in the microcirculation, which cannot be explained by a change in ADMA levels. Microvascular NO deficiency might be responsible for the heterogeneity of tissue perfusion observed in sepsis and could be a therapeutic target.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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