Endotoxemia Correlates with Kidney Function and Length of Stay in Critically Ill Patients

Blood Purif. 2024;53(1):30-39. doi: 10.1159/000534107. Epub 2023 Nov 2.


Introduction: Endotoxin is a key driver of sepsis, which frequently causes acute kidney injury (AKI). However, endotoxins may also be found in non-bacteremic critically ill patients, likely from intestinal translocation. Preclinical models show that endotoxins can directly injure the kidneys, and in COVID-19 patients, endotoxemia correlated with AKI. We sought to determine correlations between endotoxemia and kidney and hospital outcomes in a broad group of critically ill patients.

Methods: In this single-center, serial prospective study, 124 predominantly Caucasian adult patients were recruited within 48 h of admission to Stony Brook University Hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Demographics, vital signs, laboratory data, and outcomes were collected. Circulating endotoxin was measured on days 1, 4, and 8 using the endotoxin activity assay (EAA). The association of EAA with outcomes was examined with EAA: (1) categorized as <0.6, ≥0.6, and nonresponders (NRs); and (2) used as a continuous variable.

Results: Patients with EAA ≥0.6 had a higher prevalence of proteinuria, and lower arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) to fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) (SaO2/FiO2) ratio versus patients with EAA <0.6. EAA levels positively correlated with serum creatinine (sCr) levels on day 1. Patients whose EAA level stayed ≥0.6 had a slower decline in sCr compared to those whose EAA started at ≥0.6 and subsequently declined. Patients with AKI stage 1 and EAA ≥0.6 on day 1 showed slower decline in sCr compared to patients with stage 1 AKI and EAA <0.6. EAA ≥0.6 and NR patients had longer hospital stay and delayed ICU discharge versus EAA <0.6.

Conclusions: High EAA levels correlated with worse kidney function and outcomes. Patients whose EAA levels fell, and those with AKI stage I and day 1 EAA <0.6 recovered more quickly compared to those with EAA ≥0.6, suggesting that removal of circulating endotoxins may be beneficial in critically ill patients.

Keywords: Acute kidney injury; Endotoxin; Intensive care unit.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury* / epidemiology
  • Adult
  • Critical Illness / epidemiology
  • Endotoxemia* / complications
  • Endotoxemia* / therapy
  • Endotoxins
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Kidney
  • Length of Stay
  • Oxygen
  • Prospective Studies


  • Endotoxins
  • Oxygen