To evaluate the role of interleukin (IL)-18 in endotoxin-induced diaphragm muscle deterioration, we studied three treatment groups, namely, a saline+endotoxin group, an IL-18+endotoxin group and an IL-18 only group using Wistar rats. Five minutes after saline or IL-18 (0.25 μg) injection, E. coli endotoxin (30 mg/kg) was injected intraperitoneally. In the saline+endotoxin group, the force-frequency curves by ANOVA (p<0.01), twitch tension (TT) and slope during contraction time (TT/CT) were significantly lower at 4 hours than those at 0 hours due to endotoxin (p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, respectively) and nitric oxide (NO) production had increased at 4 hours as shown by NADPH diaphorase staining. In the IL-18+endotoxin group, the decrement of the force-frequency curves in a higher frequency range (50-120 Hz), and the decrements of TT and TT/CT observed at 4 hours in the saline+endotoxin group were significantly prevented, and NO production was blocked at 4 hours. In the IL-18 only group, the force-frequency curves did not change except for fatigability, and NO production did not occur. It is suggested that IL-18 itself naturally blocks NO production, even when endotoxin coexists, resulting in the prevention of deterioration of diaphragm muscle contraction by endotoxin.
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