In the present study, we evaluated circulating pro-inflammatory mediators and markers of oxidative stress in patients with decompensated CHF (congestive heart failure) and assessed whether clinical recompensation by short-term inotropic therapy influences these parameters. Patients with worsening CHF (n=29, aged 61.9±2.7 years), NYHA (New York Heart Association) class III–IV, and left ventricular ejection fraction of 23.7±1.8% were studied. Controls comprised age-matched healthy volunteers (n=15; 54.1±3.2 years). Plasma levels of cytokines [IL (interleukin)-6 and IL-18], chemokines [MCP-1 (monocyte chemotactic protein-1)], adhesion molecules [sICAM (soluble intercellular adhesion molecule), sE-selectin (soluble E-selectin)], systemic markers of oxidation [TBARS (thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances), 8-isoprostaglandin F and nitrotyrosine] and hs-CRP (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein) were measured by ELISA and colorimetric assays at admission and 30 days following 72-h milrinone (n=15) or dobutamine (n=14) infusion. Plasma IL-6, IL-18, sICAM, E-selectin, hs-CRP and oxidative markers were significantly higher in patients on admission before inotropic treatment compared with controls (P<0.05). Short-term inotropic support improved clinical status as assessed by NYHA classification and by the 6-min walk test and significantly decreased plasma levels of IL-6, IL-18, sICAM, hs-CRP and markers of oxidation (P<0.05) at 30 days. The effects of milrinone and dobutamine were similar. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that patients with decompensated CHF have marked systemic inflammation and increased production of oxygen free radicals. Short-term inotropic support improves functional status and reduces indices of inflammation and oxidative stress in patients with decompensated CHF.

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