Epinephrine induces tissue perfusion deficit in porcine endotoxin shock: evaluation by regional CO(2) content gradients and lactate-to-pyruvate ratios

Tero J Martikainen, Jyrki J Tenhunen, Ivo Giovannini, Ari Uusaro, Esko Ruokonen
American Journal of Physiology. Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology 2005, 288 (3): G586-92
Epinephrine is widely used as a vasoconstrictor or inotrope in shock, although it may typically induce or augment lactic acidosis. Ongoing debate addresses the question of whether hyperlactatemia per se is a sign of tissue perfusion deficit or aerobic glycolysis. We wanted to test the hypothesis that epinephrine has selective detrimental effects on visceral perfusion and metabolism. We performed rigorous regional venous blood gas analyses as well as intraperitoneal microdialysis. We used a mathematical model to calculate regional arteriovenous CO(2) content gradients and estimated the magnitude of the Haldane effect in a porcine model of prolonged hypotensive shock induced by endotoxin infusion (mean arterial blood pressure < 60 mmHg). Subsequently, vasopressors (epinephrine or norepinephrine) were administered and adjusted to maintain systemic mean arterial pressure > 70 mmHg for 4 h. Epinephrine caused systemic hyperlactatemia and acidosis. Importantly, both systemic and regional venous lactate-to-pyruvate ratios increased. Epinephrine was associated with decreasing portal blood flow despite apparently maintained total splanchnic blood flow. Epinephrine increased gastric venous-to-arterial Pco(2) gradients and CO(2) content gradients with decreasing magnitude of the Haldane effect, and the regional gastric respiratory quotient remained higher after epinephrine as opposed to norepinephrine infusion. In addition, epinephrine induced intraperitoneal lactate and glycerol release. We did not observe these adverse hemodynamic or metabolic changes related to norepinephrine with the same arterial pressure goal. We conclude that high CO(2) content gradients with decreasing magnitude of the Haldane effect pinpoint the most pronounced perfusion deficiency to the gastric wall when epinephrine, as opposed to norepinephrine, is used in experimental endotoxin shock.

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