Extracorporeal cytokine elimination as rescue therapy in refractory septic shock: a prospective single-center study

J Artif Organs. 2017 Sep;20(3):252-259. doi: 10.1007/s10047-017-0967-4. Epub 2017 Jun 6.


Sepsis is the most common cause of death in medical intensive care units (ICU). If sepsis progresses to refractory septic shock, mortality may reach 90-100% despite optimum current therapy. Extracorporeal cytokine adsorption in addition to regular therapy was studied prospectively in refractory septic shock patients on a medical ICU. Refractory shock was defined as increasing vasopressor dose required to maintain mean arterial blood pressure above 65 mmHg or increasing lactate levels despite protocol-guided shock therapy for 6 h. We analysed noradrenaline requirements after 6 and 12 h (primary endpoint), lactate clearance after 6 and 12 h, SOFA-scores in the first days and achievement of shock reversal (i.e., normalization of lactate concentrations and sustained discontinuation of vasopressors; secondary endpoints). Twenty consecutive patients with refractory septic shock were included; CytoSorb® treatment was started after 7.8 ± 3.7 h of shock therapy. Following the initiation of adsorption therapy, noradrenaline dose could be significantly reduced after 6 (-0.4 µg/kg/min; p = 0.03) and 12 h (-0.6 µg/kg/min; p = 0.001). Lactate clearance improved significantly. SOFA-scores on day 0, 1 and 2 remained unchanged. Shock reversal was achieved in 13 (65%) patients; 28-day survival was 45%. In severe septic shock unresponsive to standard treatment, haemodynamic stabilization was achieved using cytokine adsorption therapy, resulting in shock reversal in two-thirds of these patients. The study was registered in the German Register for Clinical Trials (DRKS) No. 00005149.

Keywords: Blood purification; CytoSorb®; Interleukin 6; Refractory septic shock; Septic shock therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics / physiology*
  • Hemoperfusion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Shock, Septic / blood
  • Shock, Septic / physiopathology
  • Shock, Septic / therapy*


  • Cytokines