The local Shwartzman reaction was provoked in the skin of the ear, hind leg, and costovertebral angle of the rabbit, as well as in the ventral abdominal skin.
Certain adrenergic blocking drugs reduced the incidence of positive reactions when given prior to the provocative dose of bacterial polysaccharide.
Epinephrine and other vasoconstrictor drugs administered intradermally into the prepared skin site produced typical hemorrhagic-necrotic lesions when the usual intravenous injection of polysaccharide was omitted. This reaction could be blocked by adrenergic blocking drugs, but appeared to be augmented by heparin or nitrogen mustard.
A hypothesis has been developed to help explain the mechanism of the local Shwartzman reaction. Following the preparatory dose, tissue metabolic changes occur which lead to increased lactic acid production and render the area particularly susceptible to anoxia. Following the provocative dose, adrenergic vasoconstriction occurs. It is suggested that this vasoconstriction may be intensified at the prepared site by small residual amounts of the preparatory dose of polysaccharide which might potentiate the action of the epinephrine.
The anoxia initiated by the vasoconstriction is prolonged and intensified by the formation of intravascular thrombi around clumps of leucocytes and platelets. This anoxia, superimposed on the local metabolic changes, leads to the characteristic lesion of hemorrhage and necrosis. Thus a combination of factors, all of causal importance and largely due to known pharmacologic properties of bacterial lipopolysaccharide, occur in specific sequence to lead to the classic local Shwartzman reaction.