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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1993 Sep;106(3):473-8.

Increased plasma levels of endothelin-1 after cardiopulmonary bypass in patients with pulmonary hypertension and congenital heart disease.

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Vascular Biology and Pharmacology Unit, Institute of Child Health, London, England.


The plasma level of the potent vasoconstrictor endothelin-1 was measured in children who underwent cardiac operations. Forty-five patients were divided into two groups, those with a high pulmonary blood flow (HF group; n = 23) and those with a normal or low flow (NF group; n = 22). Seven blood samples were taken: immediately before cardiopulmonary bypass, immediately after removing the aortic cross-clamps, immediately after discontinuing bypass, and at 20 minutes and 3, 6, and 24 hours after termination of bypass. The plasma levels of endothelin-1 were similar in both groups before bypass. From the time the aortic crossclamps were removed, the plasma endothelin-1 levels in both groups increased significantly, to reach a peak level at 3 to 6 hours. The increase was significantly greater in the HF than in the NF group, and the maximum values in the two groups were 12.6 +/- 1.1 and 9.6 +/- 0.8 fmol/ml, respectively (mean +/- standard error of the mean, p < 0.05). The value 20 minutes after bypass showed a positive correlation with the mean pulmonary arterial pressure measured at the preoperative cardiac catheterization study (r = 0.41, p < 0.05). In addition, a significant positive correlation was obtained between endothelin-1 3 hours after bypass and the maximum pulmonary/systemic arterial pressure ratio during the first 12 hours after operation (r = 0.86, p < 0.05). These results suggest that cardiopulmonary bypass is associated with an immediate postoperative increase in circulating endothelin and that patients who had a high pulmonary blood flow before the operation are particularly vulnerable, bypass having a more injurious effect on a lung with preexisting endothelial dysfunction. A high level of circulating endothelin may predispose to pulmonary vascular lability and pulmonary hypertensive crises in the postoperative period.

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