Detrimental effects of high-dose methylprednisolone sodium succinate on serum concentrations of hepatic and renal function indicators in severe sepsis and septic shock

G. J. Slotman, C. J. Fisher, R. C. Bone, T. P. Clemmer, C. A. Metz, G. B. Goris, M. S. Hearron, J. N. Sheagren, R. A. Balk, Timothy E Albertson, G. E. Foulke, N. K. Mondragon, J. L. Smith, K. Nyman, K. W. Burchard, A. D'Arezzo, B. D. McLees, C. E. McCall, P. Alford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the effects of high-dose methylprednisolone sodium succinate on biochemical markers of hepatic and renal function in patients with severe sepsis and septic shock. Design: Retrospective analysis of serial serum chemistries in 382 patients who were entered prospectively into a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial of high-dose methylprednisolone or placebo in the sepsis syndrome. Setting: The original study was conducted at 19 academic centers. Patients: Adult patients in severe sepsis or septic shock who met the study entry criteria, which included a clinically defined source of infection and signs of systemic sepsis, were enrolled into the study. Three hundred eighty-two patients were evaluated. Interventions: Patients received either methylprednisolone (30 mg/kg) or placebo by iv infusion every 6 hrs for four doses. Hemodynamic variables and serum concentrations of creatinine, urea nitrogen, bilirubin, and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) were recorded on entering the study, at 12 and 24 hrs, and at 3, 7, and 14 days after the first infusion of methylprednisolone or placebo. These data were analyzed retrospectively. Main Outcome Measurements: Hemodynamic and biochemical data were analyzed to determine whether or not hepatic and renal function in the sepsis syndrome had been influenced by methylprednisolone treatment. Results: Differences between methylprednisolone and placebo in hemodynamic variables, the occurrence rate of shock and recovery from shock, mortality rates and serum concentrations of creatinine and AST were not statistically significant. At 12 and 24 hrs, and at 3 and 7 days after the first drug infusion (of methylprednisolone or placebo), blood urea nitrogen was increased from baseline values in a significantly (p < .01) greater proportion of the methylprednisolone-treated patients compared with placebo-treated patients. The frequency of increased serum bilirubin concentrations was significantly (p < .01) greater among methylprednisolone patients vs. the placebo group at 12 and 24 hrs. Conclusions: The frequency of acutely increased blood urea nitrogen and bilirubin concentrations in severe sepsis was increased significantly with high-dose methylprednisolone therapy. Similar frequencies of circulatory shock in the study groups excluded differences in global perfusion as a cause of this phenomenon. Possible adverse effects of pharmacologic concentrations of methylprednisolone in critically ill patients should be considered in planning treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-195
Number of pages5
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • bilirubin
  • blood urea nitrogen
  • critical care
  • glucocorticoids
  • hepatic function
  • kidney function
  • liver failure
  • liver function
  • methylprednisolone sodium succinate
  • renal failure
  • shock and sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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