Calorie sources and recovery from central nervous system ischemia.
OBJECTIVES: Glucose is the primary substrate for the energy requirements of the nervous system. Nevertheless, administration of glucose to critically ill patients with central nervous system trauma may have adverse effects on their neurologic recovery. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of other sources of nonprotein calories on spinal cord lactate accumulation and on electrophysiologic recovery after a period of severe spinal cord ischemia. DESIGN: Two randomized, blinded studies were performed: one of glycolytic energy substrates (fructose, xylitol, sorbitol, glycerol) and one of ketogenic energy substrates (beta-hydroxybutyrate, acetate, butyrate). SETTING: College teaching hospital laboratory. SUBJECTS: New Zealand albino rabbits (weight 3.5 to 4.5 kg). INTERVENTIONS: After infusion of the randomly assigned treatment, temporary ischemia was produced in the lumbosacral spinal cord by occluding the abdominal aorta with a balloon catheter. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Blood concentrations of glucose, lactate, pyruvate, and ketone bodies and spinal cord dialysate concentration of lactate were measured before and after infusion of the assigned treatment, and during ischemia and during the first 2 hrs after reperfusion. Spinal somatosensory evoked potentials were recorded during ischemia to assure a similar severity of ischemia in all animals and during the first 2 hrs after reperfusion as a measure of electrophysiologic recovery. Infusion of the glycolytic nutrients xylitol and fructose increased blood glucose and lactate concentrations, and resulted in increased lactate accumulation in the spinal cord during ischemia and resulted in a significantly poorer recovery of the spinal somatosensory evoked potential than infusion of saline. Infusion of sorbitol and glycerol did not have these adverse effects in the doses administered. None of the ketogenic nutrients increased blood glucose concentration or increased lactate accumulation in the spinal cord during ischemia when compared with infusion of saline. Infusion of butyrate and acetate caused arterial hypotension and resulted in a poorer recovery of the spinal somatosensory evoked potential than saline. Infusion of beta-hydroxybutyrate did not have an adverse effect on blood pressure or on evoked potential recovery. CONCLUSIONS: Glycerol, sorbitol, and beta-hydroxybutyrate deserve further evaluation as potential nonprotein calorie sources in patients with neurologic injury. Xylitol and fructose are not suitable since these substrates resulted in hyperglycemia and increased lactate accumulation in the central nervous system, and had detrimental effects on electrophysiologic recovery after ischemia. The short-chain fatty acids (acetate and butyrate) also had adverse effects on electrophysiologic recovery after ischemia, probably because of their hypotensive effects when given intravenously, rather than from the effects of their metabolism.