Apart from the present work, we know of only one other study that informs on the status of endothelium-dependent vasodilation in human sepsis. In eight patients with severe sepsis who required adrenergic support and were surgically treated for acute peritonitis, Stoclet and coworkers (11) were able to isolate omental arteries and found an unimpaired relaxation response to the endothelium-dependent vasodilator bradykinin. Our data are consonant with this report. It appears that in human severe sepsis or septic shock, the ability of the endothelium to generate signals for vasorelaxation is conserved in at least some vascular beds. The functional significance of this fact remains to be determined. We might speculate that it is of some importance in mitigating the local disturbances of oxygen supply.
The authors thank the nursing staff for their help at the bedside, and Camille Anglada for outstanding technical assistance. The purchase of the laser-Doppler imager was made possible by a grant from the Tossiza Foundation.
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