The possibility that endotoxin pretreatment could prevent the hepatotoxic effects of erythromycin estolate (EE) was investigated using the isolated perfused rat liver. The addition of E. coli endotoxin (25 micrograms/ml) to the perfusate, 30 min prior to EE administration at 150 or 200 microM, significantly ameliorated the decreases in bile and perfusate flow caused by either concentrations of the drug in control liver preparations. This phenomenon was also studied using liver isolated from rats pretreated in vivo with endotoxin for three days. In these preparations, EE at both concentrations did not alter bile flow and caused reductions of perfusate flow which were far less than those observed in untreated control livers. Furthermore, in livers from endotoxin-treated rats EE induced less reduction of bile acid excretion and, at 150 microM, it did not increase the bile to perfusate ratio of sucrose seen in control preparations after the drug, which may be an expression of altered hepatocytic membrane permeability. Since it is known that both endotoxin and EE interact with membranes, it is suggested that the "protective" effects of endotoxin may occur at the membrane level.
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