Efficacy of methylene blue in an experimental model of calcium channel blocker-induced shock

David H. Jang, Sean Donovan, Lewis S. Nelson, Theodore C. Bania, Robert S. Hoffman, Jason Chu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Study objective Calcium channel blocker poisonings account for a substantial number of reported deaths from cardiovascular drugs. Although supportive care is the mainstay of treatment, experimental therapies such as high-dose insulin-euglycemia and lipid emulsion have been studied in animal models and used in humans. In the most severe cases, even aggressive care is inadequate and deaths occur. In both experimental models and clinical cases of vasodilatory shock, methylene blue improves hemodynamic measures. It acts as a nitric oxide scavenger and inhibits guanylate cyclase that is responsible for the production of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). Excessive cGMP production is associated with refractory vasodilatory shock in sepsis and anaphylaxis. The aim of this study is to determine the efficacy of methylene blue in an animal model of amlodipine-induced shock. Methods Sprague-Dawley rats were anesthetized, ventilated, and instrumented for continuous blood pressure and pulse rate monitoring. The dose of amlodipine that produced death within 60 minutes was 17 mg/kg per hour (LD50). Rats were divided into 2 groups: amlodipine followed by methylene blue or amlodipine followed by normal saline solution, with 15 rats in each group. Rats received methylene blue at 2 mg/kg during 5 minutes or an equivalent amount of normal saline solution in 3 intervals from the start of the protocol: minutes 5, 30, and 60. The animals were observed for a total of 2 hours after the start of the protocol. Mortality risk and survival time were analyzed with Fisher's exact test and Kaplan-Meier survival analysis with the log rank test. Results Overall, 1 of 15 rats (7%) in the saline solution-treated group survived to 120 minutes compared with 5 of 15 (33%) in the methylene blue-treated group (difference -26%; 95% confidence interval [CI] -54% to 0.3%). The median survival time for the normal saline solution group was 42 minutes (95% CI 28.1 to 55.9 minutes); for the methylene blue group, 109 minutes (95% CI 93.9 to 124.1 minutes). Pulse rate and mean arterial pressure (MAP) differences between groups were analyzed until 60 minutes. Pulse rate was significantly higher in the methylene blue-treated group beginning 25 minutes after the start of the amlodipine infusion (95% CI 30 to 113 minutes) that was analyzed until 60 minutes. MAP was significantly higher in the methylene blue-treated group starting 25 minutes after the amlodipine infusion (95% CI 2 to 30 minutes) that was analyzed until 60 minutes. Conclusion Methylene blue did not result in a significant difference in mortality risk. There was an increased pulse rate, MAP, and median survival time in the methylene blue group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-415
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


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