Septic shock is a major cause of death following trauma and a persistent problem in surgical patients. It is a challenge to the critical care medicine specialist and carries an unacceptably high mortality rate, despite adequate antibiotic and vasopressor therapy. The prevalent hypothesis regarding its mechanism is that the syndrome is caused by an excessive defensive and inflammatory response. During the acute phase some signalling mechanisms are activated, particularly hormone release, which function to restore the host homeostasis that has been disturbed by the infection. Since the neuroendocrine and immune systems are functionally related, so the exposure to antigens induces a synchronized response, which allows the organism to successfully endure immunology changes. An important characteristic of this communication includes the appearance of proteins released into the circulation by activated immune cells. These proteins, called cytokines can enter the circulation and reach neuroendocrine organs, where they act either themselves or through the release of intermediates such as prostaglandin, catecholamines and nitric oxide. The synthesis of nitric oxide may be induced in brain as a consequence of infection and may alter the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis. In this review we discuss the physiologic roles of the nitric oxide in central nervous system controlling the regulation of vasopressin and oxytocin during the pathophysiology of sepsis.
Keywords: Cytokines, hypotension, septic shock, LPS, endotoxic shock, hypothalamic-pituitary axis, nitric oxide, paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei
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