Hemodynamic and Inflammatory Effects of Abrupt Versus Tapered Corticosteroid Discontinuation in Septic Shock

2014-07-23 21:08:41 | BioPortfolio


The proposed study will evaluate the potential benefit of a tapered course of hydrocortisone compared to abrupt cessation in patients initiated on hydrocortisone for septic shock. The study will include adult patients in the medical intensive care unit (MICU) who meet criteria for corticosteroid therapy for septic shock according to the current MICU protocol.All patients will receive 7 days of hydrocortisone (50mg/Q6hrs) as part of the routine management of septic shock, before being randomly assigned to receive hydrocortisone taper versus no taper. The primary study endpoint is the incidence of hypotension within 7 days after randomization. Secondary endpoints will include incidence of adrenal insufficiency, and changes in the inflammatory status (assessed by cytokine measurements) before, during, and after corticosteroid discontinuation. The cytokines to be measured include IL-1, IL-6, IL-9, IL-10, and TNF. Since there has not been a randomized clinical trial to investigate the potential benefit of weaning septic patients off low-dose hydrocortisone as opposed to stopping abruptly, this study has potential to change clinical practice by leading to a consistent approach of corticosteroid discontinuation and to a better understanding of their impact on the inflammatory modulation in septic shock.


Current therapy for septic shock includes antimicrobials, fluid resuscitation, catecholamines, and measures to improve tissue oxygen delivery. The use of corticosteroids as an adjunctive treatment in septic shock has been an area of intensive research over the past decade. A handful of studies suggest that patients in septic shock benefit from low-dose glucocorticoids.Low-dose corticosteroids may improve hemodynamics, decrease vasopressor requirements, and reduce 28-day mortality in patients with vasopressor-refractory septic shock. A meta-analysis from 2004 also suggested that the use of low-dose corticosteroids does not significantly increase the risk of superimposed infections, gastrointestinal bleeding, or hyperglycemia.

The exact mechanism for this beneficial effect has not been completely established, although direct vascular effects and anti-inflammatory effects of corticosteroids have been proposed. While there is ongoing debate over which subpopulations of patients derive benefit from corticosteroids, there is as much controversy regarding the appropriate duration of therapy. The current Surviving Sepsis Campaign suggests that intravenous IV hydrocortisone 200-300mg/day should be given to adult septic shock patients after it has been confirmed that their blood pressure is poorly responsive to fluid resuscitation and vasopressor therapy. The duration of therapy is not specified. There is also no clear evidence to suggest that patients benefit from tapering steroids as opposed to stopping them abruptly; both strategies have been employed. Annane showed both a mortality benefit and shorter duration of vasopressor therapy with an abrupt end to a 7-day course of hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone in patients with septic shock compared to placebo; while others showed a similar benefit with a taper.Keh demonstrated reversal of both hemodynamic and immunologic effects after a three-day treatment of "low-dose" hydrocortisone, suggesting that some of the beneficial effects of steroids disappear in less than 24 hours. Interestingly, 30% of patients had to restart vasopressor therapy after discontinuation of corticosteroids in one of the Keh's study arms.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Control: Active Control, Endpoint Classification: Safety/Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Caregiver, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor), Primary Purpose: Treatment


Septic Shock


hydrocortisone, Normal Saline


Cleveland Clinic
United States




The Cleveland Clinic

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-07-23T21:08:41-0400

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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

Condition of low SYSTEMIC VASCULAR RESISTANCE that develops secondary to other conditions such as ANAPHYLAXIS; SEPSIS; SURGICAL SHOCK; and SEPTIC SHOCK. Vasoplegia that develops during or post surgery (e.g., CARDIOPULMONARY BYPASS) is called postoperative vasoplegic syndrome or vasoplegic syndrome.

Sepsis associated with HYPOTENSION or hypoperfusion despite adequate fluid resuscitation. Perfusion abnormalities may include, but are not limited to LACTIC ACIDOSIS; OLIGURIA; or acute alteration in mental status.

The main glucocorticoid secreted by the ADRENAL CORTEX. Its synthetic counterpart is used, either as an injection or topically, in the treatment of inflammation, allergy, collagen diseases, asthma, adrenocortical deficiency, shock, and some neoplastic conditions.

Increase in blood LACTATE concentration often associated with SEPTIC SHOCK; LUNG INJURY; SEPSIS; and DRUG TOXICITY. When hyperlactatemia is associated with low body pH (acidosis) it is LACTIC ACIDOSIS.

Systemic inflammatory response syndrome with a proven or suspected infectious etiology. When sepsis is associated with organ dysfunction distant from the site of infection, it is called severe sepsis. When sepsis is accompanied by HYPOTENSION despite adequate fluid infusion, it is called SEPTIC SHOCK.

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