The effects of L-canavanine, an inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase, on endotoxin-induced shock was investigated in the pentobarbitone anesthetized rat. Endotoxin infusion (2.5 mg kg-1 h-1 over 6 h) produced progressive and marked hypotension and hypoglycemia. Electron microscopy showed marked changes in the kidney, comprising severe endothelial cell disruption and the accumulation of platelets in the blood vessels. In the lung, there was marked accumulation of polymorphonuclear leukocytes in small blood vessels and endothelial disruption. Treatment with L-canavanine (10 mg kg-1 by bolus injection each hour starting 70 min after endotoxin or saline infusion) significantly reduced endotoxin-induced hypotension, without any effect on the hypoglycemia. This treatment markedly reduced the endotoxin-induced electron microscopical changes in the kidneys and lungs. Although L-canavanine, like L-NAME, inhibited both cerebellar constitutive and splenic inducible nitric oxide synthase in vitro, in contrast to L-NAME it did not modify either arterial blood pressure or carotid artery blood flow in control rats. The data are consistent with L-canavanine being a selective inhibitor of inducible nitric oxide synthase, at least in vivo, and suggest that inhibitors of this enzyme may be beneficial in endotoxin-induced shock.
©1996The Shock Society