Purpose: Experimental evidence suggests that lactate is neuroprotective after acute brain injury; however, data in humans are lacking. We examined whether exogenous lactate supplementation improves cerebral energy metabolism in humans with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Methods: We prospectively studied 15 consecutive patients with severe TBI monitored with cerebral microdialysis (CMD), brain tissue PO2 (PbtO2), and intracranial pressure (ICP). Intervention consisted of a 3-h intravenous infusion of hypertonic sodium lactate (aiming to increase systemic lactate to ca. 5 mmol/L), administered in the early phase following TBI. We examined the effect of sodium lactate on neurochemistry (CMD lactate, pyruvate, glucose, and glutamate), PbtO2, and ICP. Results: Treatment was started on average 33 ± 16 h after TBI. A mixed-effects multilevel regression model revealed that sodium lactate therapy was associated with a significant increase in CMD concentrations of lactate [coefficient 0.47 mmol/L, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.31-0.63 mmol/L], pyruvate [13.1 (8.78-17.4) μmol/L], and glucose [0.1 (0.04-0.16) mmol/L; all p < 0.01]. A concomitant reduction of CMD glutamate [-0.95 (-1.94 to 0.06) mmol/L, p = 0.06] and ICP [-0.86 (-1.47 to -0.24) mmHg, p < 0.01] was also observed. Conclusions: Exogenous supplemental lactate can be utilized aerobically as a preferential energy substrate by the injured human brain, with sparing of cerebral glucose. Increased availability of cerebral extracellular pyruvate and glucose, coupled with a reduction of brain glutamate and ICP, suggests that hypertonic lactate therapy has beneficial cerebral metabolic and hemodynamic effects after TBI.
- Brain metabolism
- Cerebral microdialysis
- Traumatic brain injury
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine