Hyperglycaemia & mortality in sepsis – lactate dependent?

November 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Acute Med, All Updates, ICU, Resus

I like this paper for introducing a new concept to me. For years the critical care community has recognised the link between hyperglycaemia and mortality, leading to early recommendations of intensive insulin regimens subsequently shown not to be of benefit. Now it appears that the association between hyperglycaemia and mortality may be less relevant in patients with a normal lactate.

In a study of adult nondiabetic critically ill patients, hyperglycaemia had a significant association with increased mortality risk using simple univariate analysis. When they adjusted for concurrent hyperlactataemia however, hyperglycaemia was not significantly associated with increased mortality risk.

The authors discuss several known or postulated aspects of interplay between lactate and glucose in sepsis:

  • Hyperlactataemia appears to inhibit glucose uptake by muscle cells and decrease activity of the GLUT-4 transporters
  • Hyperlactataemia has also been shown to increase insulin resistance directly
  • Glucose and lactate levels tend to be elevated simultaneously in severe sepsis at baseline.
  • Experimentally it has been estimated that 45% of infused (radiolabelled) lactate is either converted into glucose via gluconeogenesis or is transformed into glycogen via the Cori cycle, representing a higher proportion of glucose formation from lactate than in nonseptic controls.
  • It is possible that elevated glucose and lactate levels in sepsis both may be measures of the same phenomenon: glucose accumulates due to the sympathomimetic response to a systemic infection with increased catecholamine levels leading to increased activity of the Na+K+-ATPase, resulting in accumulation of adenosine diphosphate (ADP). Increased levels of ADP in turn augment glycogenolysis.
  • Mitochondrial metabolism cannot meet the increased cellular energy needs of sepsis, resulting in accumulation of ADP and leading to cytosolic glycolysis and lactate production, even in an aerobic environment.

The augmented glycolysis of sepsis (and during adrenergic therapy such as epinephrine/adrenaline or albuterol/salbutamol) is one of the causes of a raised lactate to consider when applying the LACTATES mnemonic I like to use.

Hyperlactatemia affects the association of hyperglycemia with mortality in nondiabetic adults with sepsis
Acad Emerg Med. 2012 Nov;19(11):1268-75


BACKGROUND: Admission hyperglycemia has been reported as a mortality risk factor for septic nondiabetic patients; however, hyperglycemia’s known association with hyperlactatemia was not addressed in these analyses.

OBJECTIVES: The objective was to determine whether the association of hyperglycemia with mortality remains significant when adjusted for concurrent hyperlactatemia.

METHODS: This was a post hoc, nested analysis of a retrospective cohort study performed at a single center. Providers had identified study subjects during their emergency department (ED) encounters; all data were collected from the electronic medical record (EMR). Nondiabetic adult ED patients hospitalized for suspected infection, two or more systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria, and simultaneous lactate and glucose testing in the ED were enrolled. The setting was the ED of an urban teaching hospital from 2007 to 2009. To evaluate the association of hyperglycemia (glucose > 200 mg/dL) with hyperlactatemia (lactate ≥ 4.0 mmol/L), a logistic regression model was created. The outcome was a diagnosis of hyperlactatemia, and the primary variable of interest was hyperglycemia. A second model was created to determine if coexisting hyperlactatemia affects hyperglycemia’s association with mortality; the main outcome was 28-day mortality, and the primary risk variable was hyperglycemia with an interaction term for simultaneous hyperlactatemia. Both models were adjusted for demographics; comorbidities; presenting infectious source; and objective evidence of renal, respiratory, hematologic, or cardiovascular dysfunction.

RESULTS: A total of 1,236 ED patients were included, and the median age was 77 years (interquartile range [IQR] = 60 to 87 years). A total of 115 (9.3%) subjects were hyperglycemic, 162 (13%) were hyperlactatemic, and 214 (17%) died within 28 days of their initial ED visits. After adjustment, hyperglycemia was significantly associated with simultaneous hyperlactatemia (odds ratio [OR] = 4.14, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.65 to 6.45). Hyperglycemia and concurrent hyperlactatemia were associated with increased mortality risk (OR = 3.96, 95% CI = 2.01 to 7.79), but hyperglycemia in the absence of simultaneous hyperlactatemia was not (OR = 0.78, 95% CI = 0.39 to 1.57).

CONCLUSIONS: In this cohort of septic adult nondiabetic patients, mortality risk did not increase with hyperglycemia unless associated with simultaneous hyperlactatemia. The previously reported association of hyperglycemia with mortality in nondiabetic sepsis may be due to the association of hyperglycemia with hyperlactatemia.

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