Journal of Biomedical Science

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 431-440

First online:

Effects of naltrexone on lipopolysaccharide-induced sepsis in rats

  • Shinn-Long LinAffiliated withDepartment of Anesthesiology, Tri-Service General Hospital
  • , Yen-Mei LeeAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmacology, National Defense Medical Center
  • , Hsin-Yi ChangAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmacy Practice, Tri-Service General Hospital
  • , Yu-Wen ChengAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmacy, Taipei Medical University
  • , Mao-Hsiung YenAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmacology, National Defense Medical Center Email author 

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Naltrexone, an opioid antagonist, has been reported to possess an anti-inflammatory effect via blockade of opioid receptor. The aim of this study is to evaluate the protective effect of naltrexone on LPS-induced septic shock in rats. Sepsis was induced by administration of LPS (10 mg/kg, i.v.) in anesthetized rats. Results demonstrated that pretreatment with naltrexone (10 mg/kg, i.v.) significantly ameliorated hypotension and bradycardia of rats 6 h after LPS administration. In isolated blood vessel, study showed that pretreatment with naltrexone significantly improved norepinephrine-induced vasoconstriction and ACh-induced vasorelaxation in aorta of endotoxemic animals. Naltrexone significantly reduced the elevation of serum glutamate-oxalacetate transaminase and glutamate-pyruvate transaminase (as index of hepatic function) induced by LPS. The infiltration of polymorphonuclear neutrophils into liver 48 h after LPS treatment in mice was also reduced by naltrexone. On the other hand, naltrexone significantly decreased the levels of plasma TNF-α and inhibited overproduction of superoxide anions in aortic rings. However, naltrexone did not suppress the overproduction of NO (measured by its metabolites nitrite/nitrate in plasma) and iNOS expression in lungs induced by LPS. In in vitro study, naltrexone did not attenuate non-enzymatic iron-induced lipid peroxidation in rat brain homogenates. In conclusion, pretreatment with naltrexone significantly improved circulatory failure and hepatic dysfunction in sepsis. These effects were associated with reduction of TNF-α levels and superoxide anion formation, which may be attributed to antagonism of opioid receptors.


hepatic dysfunction naltrexone nitric oxide reactive oxygen species sepsis TNF-α