The relationship between hormonal mediators and systemic hypermetabolism after severe head injury.
The relationships of hormonal mediators to the systemic hypermetabolism and catabolism of head injury were studied in 15 patients with severe head injuries. Resting energy expenditure (REE), urinary nitrogen balance, and plasma glucose concentration were measured daily for the first 2 weeks after injury as the major indicators of hypermetabolism. These dependent variables were correlated with daily measurements of urinary epinephrine, norepinephrine, metanephrine, normetanephrine, dopamine, and cortisol, and with plasma levels of insulin, glucagon, and C-reactive protein. Urinary catecholamine and cortisol excretion were markedly elevated in these patients throughout the 2 weeks of study. Catecholamine excretion peaked between days 7 and 10, whereas cortisol excretion tended to be highest on day 5 after injury. Urinary levels of norepinephrine, normetanephrine, and cortisol were highest in the two patients with Glasgow Coma Scale scores of 4. Plasma insulin and glucagon concentrations were elevated on day 1 after injury and tended to increase throughout the 2-week period of study. The variables significantly associated with REE were the severity of injury, reflected by the GCS score, the urinary excretion of norepinephrine during the first 2 days after injury, and the urinary excretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine during days 3 to 7 after injury. A negative nitrogen balance was associated with the urinary excretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine, with caloric balance, and with plasma C-reactive protein during days 1 and 2 after injury. During days 3 to 7, a negative nitrogen balance was associated with the urinary excretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine and with caloric balance, and during days 8 to 14, a negative nitrogen balance was associated primarily with urinary cortisol excretion.