Nitric oxide mediates hepatic cytochrome P450 dysfunction induced by endotoxin

Anesthesiology. 1996 Jun;84(6):1435-42. doi: 10.1097/00000542-199606000-00020.


Background: Animals subjected to immunostimulatory conditions (sepsis) exhibit decreased total cytochrome P450 content and decreased P450-dependent drug metabolism. Cytochrome P450 function is of clinical significance because it mediates the metabolism of some opioid and hypnotic drugs. The authors tested the hypothesis that reduced P450 function and decreased drug metabolism in sepsis are mediated by endotoxin-enhanced synthesis of nitric oxide.

Methods: Hepatic microsomes were prepared from male Sprague-Dawley rats in nontreated rats, rats pretreated with phenobarbital and rats receiving aminoguanidine or NG-L-monomethyl-arginine alone. Nitric oxide synthesis was augmented for 12 h with a single injection of bacterial lipopolysaccharides. Nitric oxide synthase was inhibited with aminoguanidine or N(G)-L-monomethyl-arginine during the 12 h of endotoxemia in some animals. Plasma nitrite and nitrate concentrations were measured in vivo, and total microsomal P450 content, and metabolism of ethylmorphine and midazolam in vitro.

Results: Administration of endotoxin increased plasma nitrite and nitrate concentrations, decreased total cytochrome P450 content, and decreased metabolism of ethylmorphine and midazolam. Inhibition of nitric oxide formation by aminoguanidine or N(G)-L-monomethyl-arginine partially prevented the endotoxin-induced effects in the nontreated and phenobarbital-treated groups. Aminoguanidine or N(G)-L-monomethyl-arginine alone did not have an effect on either total cytochrome P450 content or P450-dependent drug metabolism. Plasma nitrite and nitrate concentrations correlated significantly negatively with P450 content (nontreated r = -0.88, phenobarbital r = -0.91), concentrations of formed formaldehyde (nontreated r = -0.87, phenobarbital r = -0.95), and concentrations of midazolam metabolites (4-OH midazolam nontreated r = -0.88, phenobarbital r = -0.93, and 1'-OH midazolam nontreated r = -0.88, phenobarbital r = -0.97).

Conclusions: Altered hepatic microsomal ethylmorphine and midazolam metabolism during sepsis is mediated in large part by nitric oxide.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arginine / analogs & derivatives
  • Arginine / pharmacology
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors*
  • Guanidines / pharmacology
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity*
  • Male
  • Microsomes, Liver / drug effects*
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • omega-N-Methylarginine


  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Guanidines
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • omega-N-Methylarginine
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Arginine
  • pimagedine