Objectives: Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been implicated in the pathophysiology of ARDS. We investigated the pattern of antioxidants in plasma and ROS production by neutrophils in patients with ARDS over 6 days.
Design: Observational study. Blood samples were taken when the diagnosis was made (D0) and after 3 (D3) and 6 days (D6) during therapy.
Setting: Intensive care units at a University Hospital.
Patients: Eight patients with ARDS were investigated, 17 healthy volunteers served as controls.
Measurements and results: Plasma levels of ascorbate, alpha-tocopherol, retinol, beta-carotene, selenium and lipid peroxidation products (MDA) were determined and the activities of the antioxidative enzymes catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione-peroxidase (GSH-PX) in erythrocytes were measured. In addition, ROS production (superoxide anion and hydrogen peroxide) in activated neutrophils was assessed. Plasma levels of alpha-tocopherol, ascorbate, beta-carotene and selenium were reduced from the onset of illness. MDA plasma levels were increased throughout the illness. ROS generation from neutrophils was normal on D0 and decreased to D6 in ARDS patients.
Conclusion: The antioxidative system is severely compromised in patients with ARDS. Plasma levels of alpha-tocopherol, ascorbate, beta-carotene and selenium are decreased. Elevated MDA levels provide further evidence of massive oxidative stress. The routine replacement of micronutrients according to recommended daily allowances was inadequate to compensate for the increased requirements.