Pharmacologic therapy designed to block adrenergic activity or alter hormonal milieu may modulate energy and protein metabolism in stress. The metabolic effects of propranolol (β adrenergic receptor blocker) in sepsis was investigated in 22 well-nourished rats that underwent superior vena caval cannulation, cecal ligation, and puncture. Animals were randomly assigned to receive either a continuous infusion of 0.7 mg/day of propranolol combined with parenteral nutrition (n = 11) or parenteral nutrition alone (n = 11). Both groups received isocaloric, isonitrogenous, isovolemic, parenteral nutrition post-operatively for 24 hr. Nitrogen balance was better for the propranolol group than for the control group (+743 ± 84 mg/kg/day versus +300 ± 63 mg/kg/day, respectively, P < 0.05). A significant difference between the pharmacologic therapy and control groups was noted for urinary 3-methylhistidine excretion versus control (0.99 ± 0.08 μg/kg/day versus 7.5 ± 0.37 μg/kg/day, respectively, P < 0.01). Measured energy expenditure was similar for both pharmacologic therapy and control groups (149 ± 20 kcal/kg/day versus 134 ± 11 kcal/kg/day, respectively, P = N.S.). No statistically significant difference was demonstrated for 24-hr survival between propranolol and control groups (73 and 64%, respectively). Continuous, low-dose propranolol promotes nitrogen retention and decreases 3-methylhistidine excretion without altering energy expenditure in parenterally fed septic rats.
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