Endogenous Nitric Oxide Production and Pulmonary Blood Flow : during different experimental lung conditions

Abstract: Nitric oxide (NO) is an important regulator of pulmonary blood flow and attenuates hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV). Nitric oxide is synthesized enzymatically in a number of tissues, including the lungs, and can also be generated from reduction of nitrite during hypoxia and acidosis. Inhaled nitric oxide (INO) is a selective pulmonary vasodilator, with no effects on systemic arterial blood pressure due to inactivation by hemoglobin in the blood. INO has distant effects both within the lungs and in other organs, since NO can be transported to remote tissues bound to proteins, or as more stable molecules of nitrite and nitrate. In healthy pigs, INO causes vasoconstriction and down regulation of endogenous NO production in lung regions not reached by INO, and predominantly so in hypoxic lung regions, i.e. augmentation of HPV. In this thesis, distant effects of INO in pigs with endotoxemic- and lavage-induced lung injuries were studied. INO increased the NO production in lung regions not reached by INO in endotoxemic pigs, whereas endogenous NO production was unaffected in pigs with lavage-induced injury. Metabolic and/or hypercapnic acidosis frequently occurs in critically ill patients, but whether acidosis affects the endogenous pulmonary NO production is unclear. The regional NO production and blood flow in hyperoxic and hypoxic lung regions, were studied during metabolic and hypercapnic acidosis. Neither metabolic, nor hypercapnic acidosis changed the endogenous NO production in hyperoxic or hypoxic lung regions. Metabolic acidosis potentiated HPV, whereas hypercapnic acidosis transiently attenuated HPV. In conclusion, the present thesis has demonstrated that INO in experimental sepsis increases the endogenous NO production in lung regions not reached by INO, which may cause increased shunt and poor response to INO. This distant effect is not seen in lavage injuried lungs, an experimental model with less inflammation. Acidosis does not affect the endogenous pulmonary NO production in hyperoxic or hypoxic lung regions. Whereas metabolic acidosis potentiates HPV, hypercapnic acidosis transiently attenuates HPV, due to a combination of hypercapnia-induced increase in cardiac output and a probable vasodilating effect of the CO2-molecule.