Effect of dexmedetomidine on inflammation in patients with sepsis requiring mechanical ventilation: a sub-analysis of a multicenter randomized clinical trial

Crit Care. 2020 Aug 10;24(1):493. doi: 10.1186/s13054-020-03207-8.


Background: Administration of dexmedetomidine has been reported to improve inflammatory response in animals. We explored the effects of administering dexmedetomidine on the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin, and thus on inflammation, in patients with sepsis enrolled in a randomized clinical trial.

Methods: The DESIRE trial was a multicenter randomized clinical trial in which adult patients with sepsis were sedated with (DEX group) or without (non-DEX group) dexmedetomidine while on mechanical ventilators. As a prespecified sub-analysis, we compared CRP and procalcitonin levels during the first 14 days of treatment between the two groups. The 14-day mortality rate, albumin level, and the number of patients with disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) were also assessed. We used generalized linear models to estimate the differences in these outcomes between groups. We also used the Kaplan-Meier method to estimate the 14-day mortality rate and the log-rank test to assess between-group differences.

Results: Our study comprised 201 patients: 100 in the DEX group and 101 in the non-DEX group. CRP and procalcitonin levels were lower in the DEX vs. non-DEX group during the 14-day treatment period [CRP-range, 5.6-20.3 vs. 8.3-21.1 mg/dL (P = 0.03); procalcitonin-range, 1.2-37.4 vs. 1.7-52.9 ng/mL (P = 0.04)]. Albumin levels were higher in the DEX group (range, 2.3-2.6 g/dL) than in the non-DEX group (range, 2.1-2.7 g/dL; P = 0.01). The percentage of patients with DIC did not significantly differ between the groups (range, 21-59% and 17-56% for the DEX and non-DEX groups, respectively; P = 0.49). The 14-day mortality rates in the DEX and non-DEX groups were 13 and 21%, respectively (P = 0.16).

Conclusion: Sedation using dexmedetomidine reduced inflammation in patients with sepsis requiring mechanical ventilation.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01760967 . Registered on 4 January 2013.

Keywords: C-reactive protein; Dexmedetomidine; Inflammation; Procalcitonin; Sepsis.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Dexmedetomidine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use*
  • Inflammation / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Procalcitonin / blood
  • Respiration, Artificial*
  • Sepsis / blood
  • Sepsis / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Procalcitonin
  • Dexmedetomidine
  • C-Reactive Protein

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01760967