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Anabolic and anticatabolic agents in critical care

Stanojcic, Mile; Finnerty, Celeste C.; Jeschke, Marc G.

Current Opinion in Critical Care: August 2016 - Volume 22 - Issue 4 - p 325–331
doi: 10.1097/MCC.0000000000000330
METABOLIC SUPPORT: Edited by Paul E. Wischmeyer

Purpose of review A complex network of hormones and other effectors characterize the hypermetabolic response in critical illness; these mediators work together to induce numerous pathophysiologic alterations. Increased incidence of infection, multiorgan failure, long-term debilitation, delays in rehabilitation, and death result from an inability to meet the prohibitively elevated protein and energy requirements, which occur during illness and can persist for several years. Pharmacologic interventions have been successfully utilized to attenuate particular aspects of the hypermetabolic response; these modalities are a component of managing critically ill patients – including those patients with severe burns. Here, we review recent advances in pharmacologically attenuating the hypermetabolic and catabolic responses.

Recent findings Propranolol, a nonspecific β-adrenergic receptor antagonist, is one of the most widely used anticatabolic therapies. Oxandrolone, testosterone, and intensive insulin therapy represent anabolic pharmacological strategies. Promising therapies, such as metformin, glucagon-like peptide 1, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor agonists, are currently being investigated.

Summary Profound metabolic derangements occur in critically ill patients; this hypermetabolic response is a major contributor to adverse outcomes. Despite the pharmacological therapies currently available to counteract this devastating cascade, future studies are warranted to explore new multimodality agents that will counteract these effects while maintaining glycemic control and preventing unfavorable complications.

aSunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

bDepartment of Surgery, The University of Texas Medical Branch

cShriners Hospitals for Children – Galveston

dInstitute for Translational Sciences, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, USA

eDepartment of Surgery, Division of Plastic Surgery

fDepartment of Immunology, University of Toronto

gRoss Tilley Burn Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence to Marc G. Jeschke, MD, PhD, Ross Tilley Burn Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre; Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Department of Immunology, University of Toronto; Sunnybrook Research Institute, 2075 Bayview Ave., Rm D704, Toronto, ON M4N 3M5, Canada. Tel: +416 480 6703; fax: +416 480 6763; e-mail:

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