Alterations of Endothelium-Dependent Digital Vascular Responses in Horses Given Low-Dose Endotoxin


  • GARY M. BAXTER VMD, MS, Diplomate ACVS

    1. Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Ft Collins, CO.
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Low doses of endotoxin cause vasoconstriction and hypoperfusion of the digit, small intestine, and cecum in horses. To determine the potential cause of these vascular alterations, in vitro vascular responses of palmar digital arteries and veins were determined in 8 horses after intravenous (IV) infusion of 1 L 0.9% NaCl (control) and 0.1 μg/kg Escherichia coli 055:B5 endotoxin in 1 L of 0.9% NaCl (endotoxin-treated). Vessels were surgically removed under general anesthesia, cut into 4-mm vascular rings, suspended in tissue baths, and attached to force displacement transducers for measurement of vascular tension. Cumulative concentration response curves to acetylcholine, bradykinin, nitroprusside, norepinephrine, 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin), and endothelin were determined. Maximal relaxation or contraction and the concentrations needed to produce 50% maximal relaxation or contraction were determined. Palmar digital arteries from endotoxin-treated horses relaxed significantly less in response to acetylcholine and bradykinin (endothelium-dependent), but not to nitroprusside (endothelium-independent) when compared with arteries from control horses. Digital arteries from endotoxin-treated horses also contracted significantly more with norepinephrine but less with serotonin. Digital veins responded less than digital arteries. In another study, vascular reactivity experiments documented that acetylcholine and bradykinin were endothelium-dependent vasodilators (endothelium-denuded vessels relaxed less than control vessels) in palmar digital vessels. Additionally, maximal relaxations for both vasodilators were significantly inhibited by N-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), a nitric oxide antagonist, suggesting that acetylcholine and bradykinin cause relaxation through the nitric oxide pathway. The data from these studies indicate that low dose endotoxin impairs endothelium-dependent relaxation and augments adrenergic contraction of palmar digital arteries in horses.