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Crit Care Med. 1998 Apr;26(4):738-47.

Right ventricular overload causes the decrease in cardiac output after nitric oxide synthesis inhibition in endotoxemia.

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Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, The Long Island Jewish Medical Center, New Hyde Park, NY 11040-1433, USA.



To determine whether the decrease in cardiac output after nitric oxide synthase inhibition in endotoxemia is due to increased left ventricular afterload or right ventricular afterload.


Prospective, randomized, unblinded study.


Research laboratory at an academic, university medical center.


Nonanesthetized, sedated, mechanically ventilated pigs.


Pigs were infused with 250 microg/kg of endotoxin over 30 mins. Normal saline was infused to maintain pulmonary artery occlusion pressure (PAOP) at a value not exceeding 1.5 times the baseline value. Left ventricular dimensions and function were studied using echocardiography. Right ventricular volumes and ejection fraction were determined via a rapid thermistor pulmonary artery catheter. We also measured mean arterial pressure (MAP), cardiac output, pulmonary arterial pressure, and calculated pulmonary and systemic resistances. Gastric tonometry was used as an index of gastric mucosal oxygenation and peripheral oxygenation. When MAP had decreased to < or =60 mm Hg or had decreased 30 mm Hg from baseline, nine animals received NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) at 15 mg/kg to restore MAP to baseline. A second group of animals (n = 6) continued to receive normal saline, ensuring that PAOP did not exceed 1.5 times its baseline value. A third group of pigs (n = 5) did not receive endotoxin and served as the time control. In this group, a balloon was used to occlude the descending thoracic aorta and to increase MAP by approximately the same amount as in the L-NAME group.


Endotoxin caused an increase in pulmonary arterial pressure and right ventricular volumes, and a decrease in gastric mucosal pH. Cardiac output was maintained in the animals receiving the saline infusion. By 2 hrs, pulmonary arterial pressure had decreased but was still notably higher than baseline. However, by this time, MAP had decreased to < or =60 mm Hg. L-NAME administration restored MAP to its baseline value but resulted in worsening pulmonary hypertension, increased right ventricular volumes, and decreased cardiac output, compared with the saline group. Three animals that received L-NAME died of right ventricular failure. We did not observe any evidence of left ventricular dysfunction with increased left ventricular afterload. Moreover, the restoration of MAP with L-NAME infusion did not correct gastric mucosal acidosis. No changes were noted in the time-control group. Occlusion of the thoracic aorta increased MAP but did not change cardiac output. This finding demonstrates that increases in left ventricular afterload of the magnitude seen with the infusion of L-NAME do not lead to decreases in cardiac output.


The decrease in cardiac output after nitric oxide synthase inhibition in endotoxemia is due to increased right ventricular afterload and not to left ventricular afterload.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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