Antioxidant therapy in critical care—Is the microcirculation the primary target?
Critical Care Medicine
This review presents the rationale for the therapeutic use of antioxidants in treating critically ill patients; it is not a systematic review of the clinical evidence that has been assessed recently by others. Clinical and nonclinical evidence is presented to support the notion that natural antioxidants are of therapeutic value in treating cardiovascular shock. Oxidative stress is a major promoter and mediator of the systemic inflammatory response. The microcirculation is particularly
... ticularly susceptible to oxidative stress that causes hemodynamic instability, leading to multiple organ failure due to systemic inflammatory response syndrome. Vitamin C is the antioxidant used experimentally to demonstrate oxidative stress as a key pathophysiologic factor in septic shock. Pharmacologic studies reveal that vitamin C (as ascorbate), at supraphysiologic doses, significantly affects the bioavailability of nitric oxide during acute inflammation, including inhibiting nitric oxide synthetase induction. Parenteral high-dose vitamin C inhibits endotoxin-induced endothelial dysfunction and vasohyporeactivity in humans and reverses sepsis-induced suppression of microcirculatory control in rodents. In severe burn injury, in both animals and patients, parenteral high-dose vitamin C significantly reduces resuscitation fluid volumes. Therefore, a significant body of pharmacologic evidence and sound preliminary clinical evidence supports the biological feasibility of using the exemplary antioxidant, vitamin C, in the treatment of the critically ill. (Crit Care Med 2007; 35[Suppl.]:S577-S583) KEY WORDS: systemic inflammatory response syndrome; oxidative stress; antioxidant therapy; parenteral vitamin C; ascorbate; endothelial dysfunction; severe burn; multiple organ failure S577