Quantitative assessment of a circulating depolarizing factor in shock

Brian Button, R. David Baker, Roger A. Vertrees, Shawn Elise Allen, Malcolm S. Brodwick, George C. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Sustained depolarization of cell membranes and cellular edema are known to accompany various forms of circulatory shock and probably contribute to hypovolemia and cellular dysfunction. It has been proposed that a circulating protein is responsible for these effects. In the present study we have confirmed the existence of a circulating depolarizing factor (CDF) in hemorrhagic shock, burn shock, sepsis, and cardiopulmonary bypass. Plasma samples from pigs or sheep in shock were quantitatively assayed for depolarizing activity using a microelectrode method on rat diaphragm in vitro. The depolarizing effect of CDF in vitro was similar in magnitude to that of shock in situ. We conclude that CDF can entirely account for membrane depolarization during shock. The depolarizing effect of CDF was dose-dependent and saturable; it could be reversed by rinsing the diaphragm with Ringer's or control plasma. CDF activity was detectable in plasma within 5 min after a severe scald and gradually increased over the next 25 min. Resuscitation of hemorrhaged pigs, but not burned sheep, eliminated plasma CDF activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-244
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2001


  • Burns
  • Cardiopulmonary bypass
  • Depolarization
  • Hemorrhage
  • Resuscitation
  • Sepsis
  • Skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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