Plasma Cortisol, Aldosterone, and Ascorbic Acid Concentrations in Patients with Septic Shock Do Not Predict Treatment Effect of Hydrocortisone on Mortality. A Nested Cohort Study

Jeremy Cohen, Rinaldo Bellomo, Laurent Billot, Louise M. Burrell, David M. Evans, Simon Finfer, Naomi E. Hammond, Qiang Li, David Liu, Colin McArthur, Brett McWhinney, John Moore, John Myburgh, Sandra Peake, Carel Pretorius, Dorrilyn Rajbhandari, Andrew Rhodes, Manoj Saxena, Jacobus P.J. Ungerer, Morag J. YoungBalasubramanian Venkatesh

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Rationale: Whether biomarkers can identify subgroups of patients with septic shock with differential treatment responses to hydrocortisone is unknown.Objectives: To determine if there is heterogeneity in effect for hydrocortisone on mortality, shock resolution, and other clinical outcomes based on baseline cortisol, aldosterone, and ascorbic acid concentrations.Methods: From May 2014 to April 2017, we obtained serum samples from 529 patients with septic shock from 22 ICUs in Australia and New Zealand.Measurements and Main Results: There were no significant interactions between the association with 90-day mortality and treatment with either hydrocortisone or placebo for total cortisol (odds ratio [OR], 1.09; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02-1.16 vs. OR, 1.07; 95% CI, 1.00-1.13; P = 0.70), free cortisol (OR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.04-1.38 vs. OR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.02-1.32; P = 0.75), aldosterone (OR, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.97-1.05 vs. OR, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.98-1.04; P = 0.99), or ascorbic acid (OR, 1.11; 95% CI, 0.89-1.39 vs. OR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.91-1.22; P = 0.70), respectively. Similar results were observed for the association with shock resolution. Elevated free cortisol was significantly associated with 90-day mortality (OR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.00-1.27; P = 0.04), but total cortisol, aldosterone, and ascorbic acid were not.Conclusions: In patients with septic shock, there was no heterogeneity in effect of adjunctive hydrocortisone on mortality, shock resolution, or other clinical outcomes based on cortisol, aldosterone, and ascorbic acid concentrations. Plasma aldosterone and ascorbic acid concentrations are not associated with outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)700-707
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • aldosterone
  • ascorbic acid
  • hydrocortisone
  • septic shock

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