• We studied the effect of 2.5 ×109 live Escherichia coli per kilogram v 2.7 × 109 dead E coli per kilogram injected into the peritoneal cavity of sheep with chronic pulmonary lymph fistulas. The effects of dead E coli were compared with those of live E coli, with respect to (1) pulmonary hypertension, (2) hemodynamic failure, (3) damage to the pulmonary microvasculature, (4) systemic arterial hypoxemia, (5) neutropenia and lymphopenia, (6) thrombocytopenia and platelet aggregation, (7) plasma fibrinogen concentration, and (8) classic- and alternative-pathway hemolytic complement. The time after injection of the bacteria was divided into an early period (zero to two hours) and a late period (two to seven hours). We made two conclusions: (1) The early period effects, with the exception of the absolute neutrophil count and Pao2, were independent of bacterial viability, whereas the late period effects were strongly dependent on bacterial viability. (2) The early notable difference between the live v dead groups, with respect to the absolute neutrophil count and Pao2, could not be explained on the basis of an increase in bacterial numbers alone.
(Arch Surg 1984;119:173-179)