Research Article| Volume 117, ISSUE 5, P520-530, May 1995

Hepatic metabolic response to injury and sepsis

  • Michael S. Dahn
    Reprint requests: Michael S. Dahn, MD, PhD, University Health Center, 6-C, 4201 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 48201.
    Department of Surgery and Nuclear Medicine, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Allen Park USA

    Department of Surgery and Biochemistry, Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich, USA
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  • Robert A. Mitchell
    Department of Surgery and Nuclear Medicine, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Allen Park USA

    Department of Surgery and Biochemistry, Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich, USA
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  • M. Patricia Lange
    Department of Surgery and Nuclear Medicine, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Allen Park USA

    Department of Surgery and Biochemistry, Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich, USA
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  • Stuart Smith
    Department of Surgery and Nuclear Medicine, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Allen Park USA

    Department of Surgery and Biochemistry, Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Lloyd A. Jacobs
    Department of Surgery and Nuclear Medicine, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Allen Park USA

    Department of Surgery and Biochemistry, Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich, USA
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      Background. Experimental reports have indicated that hepatic oxidative and synthetic metabolism may become depressed in sepsis. Because the mechanism of infection-related liver dysfunction has not been established, further study of these functional alterations could contribute to the therapeutic management of septic organ failure syndromes. However, recently controversy has arisen over the existence of these derangements that must be reconciled before further progress in this field can be made.
      Methods. Splanchnic balance studies for the measurement of glucose output and oxygen consumption were used to assess hepatic function in fasted normal volunteers (n=18), injured patients (n=10), and patients with sepsis (n=18). The liver's contribution to splanchnic metabolism was estimated from a comparison of splanchnic oxygen utilization in response to increases in the liver-specific process of glucogenesis. In addition, in vivo liver albumin production was determined by using the [14C] carbonate technique.
      Results. Glucose output after injury and sepsis was increased by 12.8% and 76.6%, respectively, compared with controls. On the basis of substrate balance studies, gluconeogenesis was estimated to account for 46%, 87%, and 93%, respectively, of splanchnic glucose output in each of the three groups. In patients with sepsis glucose output was also noted to be linearly related to regional oxygen consumption, indicating that these processes were coupled and increases in the respiratory activity of the splanchnic cellular mass could be accounted for by increases in new glucose output and gluconeogenic substrate clearance. The mean albumin synthetic rate increased during injury and sepsis by 22% and 29%, respectively, compared with normal volunteers.
      Conclusions. These studies cast doubt on the commonly held notion that tissue respiratory dysfunction may occur during sepsis. On the contrary, hepatic function is accelerated during hyperdynamic sepsis, and evidence indicating oxidative or synthetic functional depression is lacking.
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