Dantrolene ameliorates the metabolic hallmarks of sepsis in rats and improves survival in a mouse model of endotoxemia

Richard S. Hotchkiss, Irene E. Karl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Sepsis is the systemic inflammatory response resulting from serious infection and is the most common cause of death in intensive care units. Intracellular free calcium concentration ([Ca2+](i)) is an important regulator of numerous cellular processes and when increased excessively may act as a potent cellular toxin. To determine if [Ca2+](i) is responsible for the major metabolic changes which are hallmarks of sepsis, we examined if sodium dantrolene, a drug which decreases release of calcium from sarcoplasmic reticulum, affected the metabolic abnormalities in plasma and epitrochlearis muscles of rats made septic by cecal ligation and perforation. Dantrolene when added in vitro or when given in vivo decreases many of the metabolic hallmarks of sepsis-i.e., muscle protein breakdown ≃30%, muscle glucose transport ≃38%, muscle lactate formation ≃28%, and plasma lactate ≃29% (P < 0.05). In addition, we examined the ability of dantrolene to improve survival in a mouse model of endotoxemia. Dantrolene caused >2-fold improvement in survival when it was administered concurrently with endotoxin (54% vs. 20% survival in dantrolene-treated and control mice, respectively (P < 0.001). Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that an increase in [Ca2+](i) plays an important role in the metabolic abnormalities which occur during sepsis and that dantrolene administration may be an effective therapeutic strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3039-3043
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 12 1994


  • calcium
  • glucose
  • metabolism
  • muscle
  • protein


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