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Proc Natl Sci Counc Repub China B. 1998 Jan; 22(1): 46-54.

Beneficial effects of tetramethylpyrazine, an active constituent of Chinese herbs, on rats with endotoxemia.

Liao MH, Wu CC, Yen MH.

Department of Pharmacology, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C.

Tetramethylpyrazine, an inhibitor of phosphodiesterase, has been widely used for treatment of cardiovascular diseases in China. Here, we investigate the effects of tetramethylpyrazine on hypotension, vascular hyporeactivity to norepinephrine (NE), release of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha) and nitric oxide (NO) in a rat model of circulatory shock induced by bacterial endotoxin (E. coli lipopolysaccharide, LPS). Male Wistar-Kyoto rats were anesthetized and instrumented for the measurement of mean arterial pressure (MAP) and heart rate (HR). Injection of LPS (10 mg/kg, i.v.) resulted in a fall in MAP and an increase of HR. In contrast, animals pretreated with tetramethylpyrazine (10 micrograms/kg, i.p. at 30 min prior to LPS) maintained a significantly higher MAP, but tachycardia was further enhanced at 60 min and 120 min when compared to rats given only LPS (LPS-rats). The pressor effect of NE (1 microgram/kg, i.v.) was also significantly reduced after treatment of rats with LPS. Similarly, the thoracic aorta obtained from rats after in vivo studies showed a significant reduction in the contractile responses elicited by NE (1 microM). Pretreatment of LPS-rats with tetramethylpyrazine partially, but significantly, prevented this LPS-induced hyporeactivity to NE in vivo and ex vivo. The injection of LPS resulted in a significant increase in the plasma TNF alpha level at 60 min, whereas the effect of LPS on the plasma nitrate (an indicator of NO formation) level increased in a time-dependent manner. This increment of both TNF alpha and nitrate levels induced by LPS was significantly reduced in LPS-rats pretreated with tetramethylpyrazine. The early hypotension caused by LPS was slightly, but significantly, prevented by pretreatment with tetramethylpyrazine, suggesting that tetramethylpyrazine affects the endothelial constitutive NOS (eNOS). This was examined by the effect of tetramethylpyrazine on acetylcholine (ACh, 1 microM)-induced relaxation in rats treated with tetramethylpyrazine for 4 h. However, tetramethylpyrazine had no significant effects on the ACh-induced relaxation, indicating that tetramethylpyrazine does not affect the activity of eNOS. Thus, tetramethylpyrazine attenuates the early hypotension and the delayed circulatory failure caused by endotoxin in the rat. These effects may be due to inhibition of the release of circulation factors and TNF alpha, which usually reveal synergism upon the induction of iNOS.

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