The effect of indomethacin on protein degradation in skeletal muscle from septic rats was investigated. Sepsis was induced by cecal ligation and puncture (CLP). Control rats were sham-operated. Protein degradation rate was estimated by measuring release of tyrosine from incubated soleus (SOL) and extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles. Three experiments were performed. In the first experiment, indomethacin was administered subcutaneously (3 mg/kg) at the time of CLP and again after 3 hours. Control rats received corresponding volumes of solvent. Groups of rats were studied after 8 hours (early sepsis) or 16 hours (late sepsis). In the second experiment, the animals were pretreated 45 minutes before induction of sepsis with indomethacin (3 mg/kg) and again 3 hours after CLP and were studied during early sepsis. In the third experiment, indomethacin was added in vitro (3 μM) to incubated normal or septic muscle or to normal muscle incubated in the presence of plasma from septic animals, and release of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) by incubated muscle was measured in addition to protein degradation. There was no mortality in early sepsis. Survival rate 16 hours after CLP was 8/16 (50%) in rats recieving control injections and 7/15 (47%) in indomethacin-treated rats (NS). Proteolytic rate in incubated EDL and SOL was increased by 20-25% during early sepsis and by 30-50% during late sepsis. The increased proteolytic rate was not affected by administration of indomethacin, neither in the first nor in the second experiment. When indomethacin was added in vitro, release of PGE2 by septic muscles and by normal muscles incubated in the presence of septic plasma was reduced by about 50%, but the increased proteolytic rate in these muscles was not affected. In normal muscle, neither release of PGE2 nor protein degradation was affected by indomethacin in vitro. The present results do not support a role for prostaglandins in the enhancement of muscle proteolysis during sepsis. Since neither survival rate nor protein breakdown was affected by indomethacin, recent suggestions to use this substance in the treatment of septic patients might be questioned.
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