Efficacy of selective mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid agonists in canine septic shock

Caitlin W. Hicks, Daniel A. Sweeney, Robert L. Danner, Peter Q. Eichacker, Anthony F. Suffredini, Jing Feng, Junfeng Sun, Ellen N. Behrend, Steven B. Solomon, Charles Natanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: Corticosteroid regimens that stimulate both mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid pathways consistently reverse vasopressor-dependent hypotension in septic shock but have variable effects on survival. The Objective of this study was to determine whether exogenous mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid treatments have distinct effects and whether the timing of administration alters their effects in septic shock. Design, Setting, SUBJECTS, and Interventions: Desoxycorticosterone, a selective mineralocorticoid agonist; dexamethasone, a selective glucocorticoid agonist; and placebo were administered either several days before (prophylactic) or immediately after (therapeutic) infectious challenge and continued for 96 hrs in 74 canines with staphylococcal pneumonia. Measurements and Main Results: Effects of desoxycorticosterone and dexamethasone were different and opposite depending on timing of administration for survival (p = .05); fluid requirements (p = .05); central venous pressures (p ≤ .007); indicators of hemoconcentration (i.e., sodium [p = .0004], albumin [p = .05], and platelet counts [p = .02]); interleukin-6 levels (p = .04); and cardiac dysfunction (p = .05). Prophylactic desoxycorticosterone treatment significantly improved survival, shock, and all the other outcomes stated, but therapeutic desoxycorticosterone did not. Conversely, prophylactic dexamethasone was much less effective for improving these outcomes compared with therapeutic dexamethasone with the exception of shock reversal. Prophylactic dexamethasone given before sepsis induction also significantly reduced serum aldosterone and cortisol levels and increased body temperature and lactate levels compared with therapeutic dexamethasone (p ≤ .05), consistent with adrenal suppression. Conclusions: In septic shock, mineralocorticoids are only beneficial if given prophylactically, whereas glucocorticoids are most beneficial when given close to the onset of infection. Prophylactic mineralocorticoids should be further investigated in Patients at high risk to develop sepsis, whereas glucocorticoids should only be administered therapeutically to prevent adrenal suppression and worse outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-207
Number of pages9
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal
  • Corticosteroids
  • Infection
  • Models
  • Sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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