Sevoflurane Promotes Bactericidal Properties of Macrophages through Enhanced Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase Expression in Male Mice

Anesthesiology. 2019 Dec;131(6):1301-1315. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0000000000002992.


Background: Sevoflurane with its antiinflammatory properties has shown to decrease mortality in animal models of sepsis. However, the underlying mechanism of its beneficial effect in this inflammatory scenario remains poorly understood. Macrophages play an important role in the early stage of sepsis as they are tasked with eliminating invading microbes and also attracting other immune cells by the release of proinflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-α. Thus, the authors hypothesized that sevoflurane mitigates the proinflammatory response of macrophages, while maintaining their bactericidal properties.

Methods: Murine bone marrow-derived macrophages were stimulated in vitro with lipopolysaccharide in the presence and absence of 2% sevoflurane. Expression of cytokines and inducible NO synthase as well as uptake of fluorescently labeled Escherichia coli (E. coli) were measured. The in vivo endotoxemia model consisted of an intraperitoneal lipopolysaccharide injection after anesthesia with either ketamine and xylazine or 4% sevoflurane. Male mice (n = 6 per group) were observed for a total of 20 h. During the last 30 min fluorescently labeled E. coli were intraperitoneally injected. Peritoneal cells were extracted by peritoneal lavage and inducible NO synthase expression as well as E. coli uptake by peritoneal macrophages was determined using flow cytometry.

Results: In vitro, sevoflurane enhanced lipopolysaccharide-induced inducible NO synthase expression after 8 h by 466% and increased macrophage uptake of fluorescently labeled E. coli by 70% compared with vehicle-treated controls. Inhibiting inducible NO synthase expression pharmacologically abolished this increase in bacteria uptake. In vivo, inducible NO synthase expression was increased by 669% and phagocytosis of E. coli by 49% compared with the control group.

Conclusions: Sevoflurane enhances phagocytosis of bacteria by lipopolysaccharide-challenged macrophages in vitro and in vivo via an inducible NO synthase-dependent mechanism. Thus, sevoflurane potentiates bactericidal and antiinflammatory host-defense mechanisms in endotoxemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Blood Bactericidal Activity / drug effects
  • Blood Bactericidal Activity / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic*
  • Inflammation Mediators / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / enzymology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / biosynthesis*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / genetics
  • Phagocytosis / drug effects
  • Phagocytosis / physiology*
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • Sevoflurane / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Sevoflurane
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Nos2 protein, mouse