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Crit Care. 2013 Feb 22;17(1):R32. doi: 10.1186/cc12532.

Acute myocardial infarction is associated with endothelial glycocalyx and cell damage and a parallel increase in circulating catecholamines.



Excessive sympathoadrenal activation in critical illness contributes directly to organ damage, and high concentrations of catecholamines damage the vascular endothelium. This study investigated associations between potential drivers of sympathoadrenal activation, circulating catecholamines and biomarkers of endothelial damage and outcome in ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI)-patients, hypothesizing that the catecholamine surge would reflect shock degree and correlate with biomarkers of endothelial damage.


This was a prospective study of 678 consecutive STEMI-patients admitted to a single high-volume invasive heart centre for primary percutaneous coronary intervention (pPCI) from September 2006 to July 2008. Blood samples were drawn immediately before pPCI. Plasma adrenaline, noradrenaline, syndecan-1 and thrombomodulin were measured retrospectively with complete data in 571 patients (84%). Median follow-up time was 28 (IQR 23 to 34) months. Follow-up was 99.7% complete. Outcomes were all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, re-myocardial infarction and admission due to heart failure.


Circulating noradrenaline and adrenaline correlated weakly but independently with syndecan-1 (rho = 0.15 and rho = 0.13, both P <0.01) and thrombomodulin (rho = 0.11 and rho = 0.17, both P <0.01), biomarkers of glycocalyx and endothelial cell damage, respectively. Considering biomarkers, patients with shock pre-pPCI had higher adrenaline and syndecan-1 and patients admitted to ICU post-pPCI had higher syndecan-1 (all P <0.05), and in the patients with shock (n = 51) catecholamines correlated strongly with thrombomodulin and syndecan-1 (rho = 0.31 to 0.42, all P <0.05). During follow-up, 78 (14%) patients died (37 cardiovascular deaths) and 65 (11%) were admitted with heart failure. By multivariate Cox proportional hazards analyses, one quartile higher plasma adrenaline was weakly but independently associated with both 30-day and long term mortality and heart failure (30-day all-cause mortality hazard ratio (95% CI) 1.39 (1.01 to 1.92), P = 0.046; 30-day heart failure 1.65 (1.17 to 2.34), P = 0.005; and long-term cardiovascular mortality 1.49 (1.08 to 2.04), P = 0.014). Furthermore, one quartile higher syndecan-1 was also weakly but independently associated with long-term all cause mortality (1.26 (1.02 to 1.57), P = 0.034).


In STEMI patients treated with pPCI, catecholamines correlated weakly with biomarkers of endothelial damage, with the strongest correlations and highest adrenaline and syndecan-1 levels in patients with shock. Furthermore, adrenaline and syndecan-1 were weakly but independently associated with mortality and heart failure. Acute myocardial infarction appears to cause significant endothelial cell and glycocalyx injury and a parallel increase in circulating catecholamines.

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