Polymyxin B Protects Horses Against Induced Endotoxaemia in Vivo

Equine Vet J. 2004 Jul;36(5):397-401. doi: 10.2746/0425164044868350.


Reasons for performing study: A safe, affordable and effective treatment for endotoxaemia in horses is needed in order to reduce the incidence of this potentially fatal condition.

Objective: To evaluate the effect of polymyxin B (PMB) on signs of experimentally-induced endotoxaemia.

Hypothesis: PMB ameliorates the adverse effects of endotoxaemia without causing nephrotoxicity.

Methods: Four groups of 6 healthy mature horses each received 20 ng endotoxin/kg bwt i.v. over 30 mins. Additionally, each group received one of the following i.v.; 5000 u PMB/kg bwt 30 mins before endotoxin infusion; 5000 u PMB/kg bwt 30 mins after endotoxin infusion; 1000 u PMB/kg bwt 30 mins prior to endotoxin infusion; or saline. Clinical response data and samples were collected to determine neutrophil count, serum tumour necrosis factor (TNF) activity, plasma thromboxane B2 concentration and urine gamma glutamyltranspeptidase (GGT) to creatinine ratio.

Results: Treatment with PMB before or after administration of endotoxin significantly reduced fever, tachycardia and serum TNF, compared to horses receiving saline. The differences in response to endotoxin were greatest between horses that received saline vs. those that received 5000 u PMB/kg bwt prior to endotoxin. Urine GGT:creatinine did not change significantly.

Conclusions and potential relevance: This study indicates that PMB may be a safe and effective treatment of endotoxaemia, even when administered after onset. Although nephrotoxicity was not demonstrated with this model, caution should be exercised when using PMB in azotaemic patients.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Body Temperature / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule / veterinary
  • Endotoxemia / blood
  • Endotoxemia / drug therapy
  • Endotoxemia / veterinary*
  • Endotoxins / administration & dosage
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Horse Diseases / blood
  • Horse Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Horses
  • Polymyxin B / therapeutic use*
  • Random Allocation
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Endotoxins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Polymyxin B