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Endotoxin activates complement and white blood cells and all are implicated in the pathologic effects of cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB). We investigated if reduction in intestinal bacterial load with a laxative and/or pulsatile perfusion to improve bowel circulation during CPB reduced endotoxemia and complement and white blood cell activation. Sixty patients were randomized to four groups in a 2 x 2 factorial structure: group 1 (no laxative, nonpulsatile perfusion); group 2 (laxative, nonpulsatile perfusion); group 3 (no laxative, pulsatile perfusion); and group 4 (laxative, pulsatile perfusion). Plasma concentrations of endotoxin, C3a and C5a, and granulocyte elastase (GE) were measured before anesthesia, skin incision, and heparin administration; during CPB (1, 30, 60, 90, and 120 minutes and after protamine administration); and after CPB at 3, 6, 12, 24, and 48 hours and 7 days. In all groups there was a small increase in the concentration of endotoxin (overall from 6 ng/L before CPB to 11 ng/L at 90 to 120 minutes; p < 0.001) and significant increases in C3a, C5a, and GE levels but no significant differences among the groups. Endotoxin levels did not correlate with activation of complement or white blood cells. There was a weak correlation between duration of CPB and levels of C3a (r = 0.14; p < 0.03) and GE (r = 0.25; p = 0.001) but not endotoxin or C5a. There was a general correlation between levels of C3a and GE but not in individual patients. In conclusion, CPB results in statistically significant increases in endotoxin, C3a, C5a, and GE during CPB.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original publication




Journal article


Ann Thorac Surg

Publication Date





376 - 382


Cardiac Surgical Procedures, Cardiopulmonary Bypass, Cathartics, Complement Activation, Complement C3a, Complement C5a, Endotoxins, Granulocytes, Humans, Lymphocyte Activation, Middle Aged, Pancreatic Elastase, Perfusion, Pulsatile Flow, Time Factors, Toxemia