Echocardiographic and survival studies in mice undergoing endotoxic shock: Effects of genetic ablation of inducible nitric oxide synthase and pharmacologic antagonism of platelet-activating factor
Nitric Oxide Synthase
Platelet Activating Factor
Evidence implicating inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in the alterations of cardiac function characteristic of septic shock has come mostly from studies on anesthetized animals, isolated hearts, cultured myocytes, or hosts treated with pharmacologic inhibitors that lack complete specificity for iNOS. Platelet-activating factor (PAF) can participate in the induction of iNOS and has also been implicated in cardiac dysfunction in sepsis. The present studies assessed cardiac function in a model of sepsis in awake mice in which the gene for iNOS was either normal or selectively disrupted. Mice of each genotype were treated with parenteral fluids or with a highly specific antagonist of PAF. Endotoxic shock was induced by challenge with bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) after priming with heat-killed Propionobacterium acnes. Wild-type mice increased stroke volume and cardiac output in response to LPS. These changes were absent in iNOS-deficient mice. When treated with parenteral fluids, LPS-challenged wild-type and iNOS-deficient mice both had a marked reduction in cardiac output. Antagonism of PAF had no effect on echocardiographic indices in wild-type mice, but selectively overcame the bradycardia and reduced cardiac output elicited by fluid administration in LPS-shocked, iNOS-deficient mice. Thus, there are major cardiovascular effects of PAF that are shared by rather than mediated by iNOS. Neither complete iNOS deficiency nor antagonism of PAF improved survival, whether tested as single or combined intervention. On the contrary, complete deficiency of iNOS was detrimental to survival. Finally, we tested the hypothesis that iNOS deficiency might improve survival if the deficiency were specific but partial. For this, we used mice with one normal and one disrupted gene for iNOS. No survival advantage was evident for these iNOS heterozygotes. Thus, partial or complete inhibition of iNOS, with or without antagonism of PAF, afforded no evident benefit beyond the previously demonstrated reduction in hypotension. Finally, these studies demonstrate that echocardiography preceded by acclimatization is feasible in unanesthetized mice, a finding which should expand the value of genetically manipulated animals for analysis of cardiac function.