Perioperative plasma endothelin-1 and big endothelin-1 concentrations in elderly patients undergoing major surgical procedures

Joel B. Nelson, Terry J. Opgenorth, Lee A. Fleisher, Steven M. Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Plasma concentrations of the vasoconstrictor endothelin-1 (ET-1) increase during acute physiologic stress, but the role of ET-1 in the pathophysiology of stress remains largely undefined. Whether ET-1 mediates thermoregulatory changes in vasomotor tone is unknown. ET-1 and its more stable precursor, Big ET-1, were measured in plasma obtained at several perioperative time points from 95 consecutive elderly patients (mean age 70 ± 1 yr) randomized to receive either normothermic or hypothermic perioperative care while undergoing major surgical procedures. In the postoperative period, there were no significant changes in plasma ET-1 concentrations, but Big ET-1 concentrations increased considerably (P < 0.0001). There were no significant differences in mean ET-1 or Big ET-1 levels in normothermic and hypothermic patients. Preoperative and postoperative ET-1 concentrations were significantly higher in patients with a history of hypertension (P < 0.002) and in those requiring treatment for postoperative hypertension (P < 0.003). Patients with cancer and those undergoing abdominal surgery had significantly higher Big ET-1 concentrations (P < 0.0001 and P < 0.003, respectively). These data support the hypothesis that Big ET-1 is a more sensitive measure of endothelin system activation after major surgery. Premorbid conditions and location and type of surgery influence perioperative ET-1/Big ET-1 concentrations. Implications: The endothelin response seems to be significantly associated with perioperative hemodynamic aberrations. The endothelin-1 (ET-1) precursor Big ET-1 is a more sensitive measure of the endothelin system activation in response to surgical stress than ET-1 alone. Thermoregulatory vasoconstriction in response to mild perioperative hypothermia occurs independently of the endothelin system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)898-903
Number of pages6
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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