1. Acute renal failure was induced in female Sprague—Dawley rats by the subcutaneous injection of glycerol.
2. Four groups of rats were studied; all animals received a glycerol challenge. Group A (control) were sham-operated only, group B received an infusion of sodium chloride solution (150 mmol/l; saline) for 24 h, group C received an infusion containing prostaglandin E2 (PGE2, 1.7 μmol/l) in saline and group D a solution containing PGE2 (3.4 μmol/l) in saline.
3. All rats were killed 48 h after glycerol challenge. The degree of renal impairment was assessed by serum creatinine concentration, which did not differ in sham-operated animals and the group receiving saline alone. The group of rats receiving the lower dose of PGE2 has a significantly lower mean serum creatinine concentration than the saline-infused control rats (P < 0.0025). Creatinine concentration was further lowered by the higher dose of PGE2 but there was not a significant difference in the number of rats showing severe tubular necrosis histologically.
4. The study demonstrates that intravenous infusion of prostaglandin E2 has a protective influence on glycerol-induced renal failure in the rat; the protection afforded may be due to the vasodilator effect of PGE2 and/or an effect on glomerular permeability.