ABSTRACT: To investigate the pattern of pituitary-adrenal responses to human corticotropin-releasing hormone (hCRH) in critically ill patients and to examine the relation between responses and clinical outcome.
Prospective study in consecutive critically ill patients in a general intensive care unit in a teaching hospital.
The study included 37 critically ill, mechanically ventilated patients with diverse underlying diagnoses (28 men, 9 women; median age 56 years).
A morning blood sample was obtained to measure baseline cortisol, corticotropin (ACTH), and cytokines. Patients were then injected with 100 microg hCRH, and plasma cortisol and ACTH were measured over a period of 2 h.
In the overall patient population baseline and peak cortisol concentrations following hCRH were 16+/-5 and 21+/-5 microg/dl, respectively, and median baseline and peak ACTH levels 23 and 65 pg/ml, respectively. Higher ACTH levels and longer release of cortisol were noted in nonsurvivors (n=18) than in survivors (n=19). Furthermore, nonsurvivors had higher concentrations of interleukin 8 (115 vs. 38 pg/ml) and interleukin 6 (200 vs. 128 pg/ml) than survivors.
Critically ill patients demonstrate altered pituitary-adrenal axis responses to hCRH. This is particularly evident in the sickest patients with the highest degree of inflammatory profile who ultimately do not survive.
Intensive Care Medicine 04/2007; 33(3):454-9. · 5.40 Impact Factor