Metabolism modulators in sepsis: Propranolol
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Sepsis is accompanied by an enormous increase in catecholamine expression, leading to metabolism of lipids and glucose, changes in cardiovascular output, immunomodulatory effects, and changes in protein metabolism, all of which push the body into a catabolic state. Deleterious beta-adrenoceptor controlled responses to stress and sepsis are well documented; therefore, it would seem appropriate to use propranolol under such circumstances. There are arguments both for and against the use of beta-adrenoceptor blockade during episodes of stress and infection. The definition of sepsis itself is a clinical one in most cases. There are guidelines concerning the diagnosis of sepsis (systemic inflammatory response syndrome [SIRS] in the presence of significant infection). However, when the cause of SIRS is not infection, for example, in burn patients, is it not possible, and indeed preferable, to tackle the stress response in a more aggressive fashion? The effects of SIRS on the body are myriad and have been defined and illustrated in many fine reviews. The effects of sepsis on the body, as well, have been discussed in the world literature and are beyond the scope of this article. In this article we attempt to demonstrate the effects of sepsis (SIRS plus infection) on whole body metabolism, outline the mediators of these changes, and then show the ability of propranolol to attenuate the changes seen.
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