Ethanol exacerbates hepatic microvascular dysfunction, endotoxemia, and lethality in septic mice

Shock. 1994 Jun;1(6):413-8. doi: 10.1097/00024382-199406000-00004.


The effect of acute ethanol administration on the hepatic microvascular responses to sepsis was studied. Polymicrobial sepsis was induced 30 min after mice had received ethanol (1 g/kg b.w.) or isocaloric maltose-dextrin by gastric gavage. Lethality within 24 h was 91.7% in the ethanol-treated animals and 40.0% in septic controls. Endotoxin levels in ethanol treated animals were 107 pg/ml at 6 hr and 1205 pg/ml at 12 h, compared with 32 pg/ml and 104 pg/ml, respectively in the controls. In vivo microscopy revealed that at 3 h in the ethanol treated septic animals, Kupffer cell phagocytic activity was increased by 41%, whereas the number of sinusoids containing blood flow were reduced by 34% concomitant with a 144% increase in the adherence of leukocytes to the sinusoidal walls when compared with the septic controls. By 6 h, however, Kupffer cell phagocytic activity was reduced by 48% in the ethanol treated animals; this was accompanied by a further deterioration in sinusoidal blood flow. Thus, a small, acute dose of ethanol causes significant impairment of the hepatic microcirculation followed by suppression of Kupffer cell activity. This results in exacerbation of endotoxemia and lethality during polymicrobial sepsis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endotoxins / blood
  • Ethanol / toxicity*
  • Kupffer Cells / pathology
  • Liver / blood supply
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microcirculation / drug effects*
  • Phagocytosis
  • Sepsis / mortality
  • Sepsis / physiopathology*


  • Endotoxins
  • Ethanol