Purpose of review: To present the pharmacologic and biologic profile of levosimendan and discuss potential indications in the treatment of sepsis and septic shock, with a special focus on myocardial and pulmonary dysfunction.
Recent findings: In animal models of endotoxic shock, levosimendan improved both left ventricular systolic and diastolic dysfunction, as well as ventriculovascular coupling. In addition, positive effects have been reported on right ventricular performance and pulmonary circulation. Two randomized, controlled trials in patients with septic shock revealed levosimendan provided consistent beneficial effects on cardiopulmonary performance, global oxygen transport, splanchnic perfusion and renal function. These effects have been reported as superior to placebo and the classic inotropic agent dobutamine. Due to its vasodilatory effects, combination with vasoconstrictor agents may be crucial in the presence of arterial hypotension.
Summary: There is increasing evidence that levosimendan exerts beneficial effects in the treatment of sepsis-induced myocardial and pulmonary dysfunction. Future large-scale multicenter clinical trials are now needed to clarify whether levosimendan improves the overall outcome of patients with sepsis and septic shock.