Effects of polyenylphosphatidylcholine on cytokines, nitrite/nitrate levels, antioxidant activity and lipid peroxidation in rats with sepsis

Intensive Care Med. 2004 Oct;30(10):1974-8. doi: 10.1007/s00134-004-2234-4. Epub 2004 Mar 26.


Objectives: To determine the effect of pretreatment with polyenylphosphatidylcholine (lecithin, PPC) on plasma levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, total nitrite/nitrate (NOx), and tissue levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and malondialdehyde (MDA) in septic rats.

Design: Prospective, randomized, controlled animal study.

Setting: University laboratory.

Subjects: Forty-five Spraque-Dawley rats were divided into three groups: group C, sham-operated; group S, sepsis; and group P, sepsis pretreated with PPC.

Interventions: Rats were made septic by cecal ligation and puncture (CLP). Group P rats were treated with PPC (100 mg/day orally) for 10 days before sepsis. Twenty-four hours later CLP, plasma concentrations of TNF-alpha, IL-6 and IL-10 and plasma levels of NOx were measured. SOD and MDA were determined in liver, lung and heart homogenates.

Measurements and main results: All rats in group P survived during the 24-h observation time after CLP, whereas survival rate in group S was 66.7% (10/15; P<0.05). PPC significantly reduced plasma levels of TNF-alpha (P=0.006), IL-6 (P=0.007), IL-10 (P=0.016), NOx (P<0.001), and tissue levels of MDA (P<0.001) in group P with respect to in group S. Tissue levels of SOD significantly increased in group P when compared with group S (P<0.001).

Conclusions: These results show that PPC pretreatment exerts cumulative effects in decreasing the levels of cytokines, NOx, and tissue MDA concentrations, with a concomitant increase in survival in septic rats. Lecithin therapy may be a useful adjuvant therapy in controlling of the excessive production of the inflammatory cytokines in patients with severe sepsis.

Descriptor: SIRS/sepsis, experimental studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants*
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Cytokines / drug effects
  • Fat Emulsions, Intravenous / pharmacology*
  • Fat Emulsions, Intravenous / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Lipid Peroxidation / physiology*
  • Models, Animal
  • Nitrates / blood*
  • Nitrites / blood*
  • Phosphatidylcholines / pharmacology*
  • Phosphatidylcholines / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sepsis / blood
  • Sepsis / physiopathology
  • Sepsis / therapy*


  • Antioxidants
  • Cytokines
  • Fat Emulsions, Intravenous
  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • lipostabil