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Critical care medicine

Ethyl pyruvate: a novel anti-inflammatory agent.


PMID 12544977

Abstract

Pyruvate plays a central role in intermediary metabolism. Pyruvate, however, is also a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger, and numerous studies have shown that treatment with this compound can be salutary in numerous pathologic conditions that are thought to be mediated, at least in part, by redox-dependent phenomena. Unfortunately, aqueous solutions of pyruvate rapidly undergo an aldol-like condensation reaction to form 2-hydroxy-2-methyl-4-ketoglutarate (parapyruvate), a compound that is a potent inhibitor of a critical step in the mitochondrial tricarboxylic acid cycle. To circumvent this issue, our laboratory formulated a derivative of pyruvic acid, ethyl pyruvate, in a calcium- and potassium-containing balanced salt solution. We showed that treatment with this fluid could ameliorate much of the structural and functional damage to the intestinal mucosa caused by mesenteric ischemia and reperfusion in rats. In subsequent studies, we showed that treatment with ethyl pyruvate solution could improve survival in rodent models of hemorrhagic shock and resuscitation and also down-regulate a number of proinflammatory genes. Recently, ethyl pyruvate was also shown to improve survival in murine models of acute endotoxemia and bacterial peritonitis. Although the biochemical basis for the anti-inflammatory actions of pyruvate remain to be elucidated, this simple compound warrants further evaluation as a treatment for a number of conditions commonly encountered in the practice of critical care medicine.

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