Introduction: Blood glucose levels and insulin resistance in critically ill patients on admission to intensive care units (ICUs) have been identified as factors influencing mortality. The pathogenesis of insulin resistance (IR) in critically ill patients is complex and not fully understood. Resistin is a hormone mainly derived from macrophages in humans and from adipose tissue in rodents, which regulates glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. In non-critically ill patients, resistin was found to be related to impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Therefore, resistin might represent a link between inflammation, acute phase response and insulin resistance in critically ill patients. We aimed to examine the correlation of serum resistin concentrations to parameters of inflammation, organ function, metabolism, disease severity and survival in critically ill patients.
Methods: On admission to the Medical ICU, 170 patients (122 with sepsis, 48 without sepsis) were studied prospectively and compared with 60 healthy non-diabetic controls. Clinical data, various laboratory parameters, metabolic and endocrine functions as well as investigational inflammatory cytokine profiles were assessed. Patients were followed for approximately three years.
Results: Resistin serum concentrations were significantly elevated in all critical care patients compared with healthy controls, and significantly higher in sepsis than in non-sepsis patients. Serum resistin concentrations were not associated with pre-existing type 2 diabetes or obesity. For all critically ill patients, a correlation to the homeostasis model assessment index of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) was shown. Serum resistin concentrations were closely correlated to inflammatory parameters such as C-reactive protein, leukocytes, procalcitonin, and cytokines such as IL6 and TNF-alpha, as well as associated with renal failure and liver synthesis capacity. High resistin levels (> 10 ng/ml) were associated with an unfavourable outcome in non-sepsis patients on ICU and the overall survival.
Conclusions: Serum resistin concentrations are elevated in acute inflammation due to sepsis or systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS). The close correlation with other acute phase proteins suggests a predominant, clinically relevant resistin release from macrophages in ICU patients. Moreover, resistin could potentially serve as a prognostic biomarker in non-sepsis critically ill patients.