CONTEXT: Adequate adrenal function is pivotal to survive meningococcal sepsis. OBJECTIVES: The objective of the study was to evaluate adrenocortical function in meningococcal disease. DESIGN: This was an observational cohort study. SETTING: The study was conducted at a university-affiliated pediatric intensive care unit. PATIENTS: Sixty children with meningococcal sepsis or septic shock participated in the study. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The differences in adrenal function between nonsurvivors (n = 8), shock survivors (n = 43), and sepsis survivors (n = 9) on pediatric intensive care unit admission were measured. RESULTS: Nonsurvivors had significantly lower median cortisol to ACTH ratio than shock survivors and sepsis survivors. Because cortisol binding globulin and albumin levels did not significantly differ among the groups, bioavailable cortisol levels were also significantly lower in nonsurvivors than sepsis survivors. Nonsurvivors had significantly lower cortisol to 11-deoxycortisol ratios but not lower 11-deoxycortisol to 17-hydroxyprogesterone ratios than survivors. Using multiple regression analysis, decreased cortisol to ACTH ratio was significantly related to higher IL-6 levels and intubation with etomidate (one single bolus), whereas decreased cortisol to 11-deoxycortisol ratio was significantly related only to intubation with etomidate. Aldosterone levels tended to be higher in nonsurvivors than shock survivors, whereas plasma renin activity did not significantly differ. CONCLUSIONS: Our study shows that the most severely ill children with septic shock had signs of adrenal insufficiency. Bioavailable cortisol levels were not more informative on adrenal function than total cortisol levels. Besides disease severity, one single bolus of etomidate during intubation was related to decreased adrenal function and 11beta-hydroxylase activity. Decreased adrenal function was not related to decreased 21-hydroxylase activity. Based on our results, it seems of vital importance to take considerable caution using etomidate and consider combining its administration with glucocorticoids during intubation of children with septic shock.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,,
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

den Brinker, M., Joosten, K., Liem, O., de Jong, F., Hop, W., Hazelzet, J., … Hokken-Koelega, A. (2005). Adrenal insufficiency in meningococcal sepsis: bioavailable cortisol levels and impact of interleukin-6 levels and intubation with etomidate on adrenal function and mortality. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 90(9), 5110–5117. doi:10.1210/jc.2005-1107