Recent findings support the view that the bioenergetic part of septic organ failure is not caused by insufficient supply of oxygen but by disturbances of the mitochondrial function. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate key enzymes of energy metabolism in septic hearts to answer the question whether or not impairment of mitochondrial or glycolytic enzymes occur under these conditions. For this purpose the well established model of septic baboons was used. Baboons under general anesthesia were made septic by infusion of Escherichia coli. Single challenge with infusion of high amounts of bacteria was compared with a multiple challenge protocol (less bacteria infused). Some animals obtained no E. coli (sham). The hearts of the baboons were removed after 72 h (survival: yes) or after death (survival: no) of the animals, frozen in liquid nitrogen, and stored at −80±C until spectrophotometrical measurement of nine mitochondrial and glycolytic enzymes. A reduction of the activity of NADH:cytochrome-c-reductase (Complex I + III) to 67% and succinate:cytochrome-c-reductase (Complex II + III) to 45% was found in the hearts of surviving animals after infusion of high amounts of bacteria. After multiple challenge with lesser amounts of bacteria, no significant changes in enzyme activity were detectable. After lethal septic shock, activities of Complex I + III (12%) and Complex II + III (13%) as well as of phosphofructokinase (16%) were found to be strongly diminished. Decylubiquinol:cytochrome-c-reductase (Complex III, 59%), cytochrome-c-oxidase (51 %), succinate dehydrogenase (60%), glucosephosphate isomerase (61 %), lactate dehydrogenase (61%), and citrate synthase (120%) were less or unaffected. Similar but less pronounced effects were found after infusion of lesser amounts of bacteria. By means of inhibitor titrations of succinate: cytochrome-c-reductase, it was shown that the loss of activity is not caused by Complex III but by disturbances in Complex II. It is concluded that E. co/i-induced sepsis causes decreased activities of Complex I and Complex II in baboon heart mitochondria in a dose-dependent manner.
©1999The Shock Society