Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
Comparative Study
, 29 (9), 1456-63

Modulation of Host Defense by Hydrocortisone in Stress Doses During Endotoxemia

Comparative Study

Modulation of Host Defense by Hydrocortisone in Stress Doses During Endotoxemia

Axel R Heller et al. Intensive Care Med.


Objective: To investigate the effects of low-dose hydrocortisone (HC) on neutrophil respiratory burst, phagocytosis, and elimination of E. coli from blood and tissue under endotoxemic and non-endotoxemic conditions. DESIGN. Randomized, controlled trial.

Setting: Experimental laboratory, university hospital.

Subjects: Forty-eight female chinchilla rabbits ( n=8 in six groups A-F).

Interventions: In order to quantify the bacterial clearance process, defined numbers [10(8) colony forming units (CFU)] of Escherichia coli were injected intravenously into all anesthetized rabbits. Group A did not receive further intervention. Group B received bolus administration of HC 1.4 mg/kg and group C 14 mg/kg. Endotoxin (LPS, 40 microg/kg/h) was given to groups D, E, and F. Group E received additional bolus administration of HC 1.4 mg/kg and group F 14 mg/kg. All HC groups (B, C, E, and F) were continuously infused with HC 0.18 mg/kg/h.

Measurements: Monitored parameters were neutrophil respiratory burst and phagocytosis activity, rates of bacterial elimination from the blood, arterial blood pressure, serum lactate and LPS concentrations, as well as nitrite and nitrate levels. Tissue samples of liver, kidney, spleen, and lung were collected for bacterial counts.

Main results: In controls HC significantly delayed elimination of injected E. coli from the blood (P<0.01). LPS also prolonged bacterial elimination but additional HC did not further delay removal of E. coli from the blood. Under endotoxemia HC depressed respiratory burst, whereas phagocytosis functions remained unaltered. Moreover, bacterial colonization of organs was reduced after HC in the LPS groups. Significance, however, was reached only in the liver (P<0.05). Due to HC, clearance from LPS (P<0.01) and lactate (P<0.05) were improved. Levels of nitrite and nitrate did not differ among the groups.

Conclusion: HC demonstrated immunomodulatory effects even in stress doses. In endotoxemic states use of low-dose HC seems to be favorable, although not in non-septic conditions.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 12 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. JAMA. 2002 Aug 21;288(7):862-71 - PubMed
    1. J Leukoc Biol. 2002 Oct;72(4):621-7 - PubMed
    1. J Med Lab Technol. 1960 Oct;17:224-33 - PubMed
    1. Pflugers Arch. 2001 Nov;443(2):297-305 - PubMed
    1. N Engl J Med. 2003 Feb 20;348(8):727-34 - PubMed

Publication types

MeSH terms