The role of nitric oxide in systemic and hepatic haemodynamics in the rat in vivo
Nitric oxide (NO) has been reported to have a protective function in attenuating hepatic injury during endotoxemia or sepsis. As a result, the role of NO in attenuating the hepatic microcirculatory alterations associated with endotoxemia was investigated in mice by in vivo microscopy. The livers were examined 2 h after intravenous injection of Escherichia coli 0111:B4 lipopolysaccharide (LPS) alone or in combination with inhibitors of the synthesis of NO, NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester or NG-monomethyl-L-arginine. In the animals treated with the combination of NO synthase inhibitors and LPS, leukocyte adherence was increased threefold above that in animals treated with LPS alone. This was accompanied by a 33% reduction in sinusoidal blood flow. Simultaneous administration of L-arginine, but not D-arginine, eliminated these microcirculatory disturbances. The results demonstrate that inhibition of LPS-stimulated NO production results in an early hepatic microvascular inflammatory response to a dose of endotoxin which by itself is scarcely inflammatory. This suggests that NO plays a significant role in stabilizing the hepatic microcirculation during endotoxemia, thereby helping to protect the liver from ischemia and leukocyte-induced oxidative injury.