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J Emerg Trauma Shock. 2017 Oct-Dec;10(4):194-198. doi: 10.4103/JETS.JETS_123_16.

Serum Cortisol Level in Indian Patients with Severe Sepsis/Septic Shock.

Author information

Department of Internal Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.
Department of Endocrinology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.
Department of Reproductive Biology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.
Department of Biostatistics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.



The relationship between cortisol level and sepsis is not known in Indian patients of severe sepsis/septic shock.


The study was done to determine the optimal range of cortisol levels, defining the adrenocortical response, and predicting the mortality, if possible, in the above type of patients.

Settings and Designs:

The study was a single-centered prospective cohort study, conducted in a tertiary referral center, North India.

Materials and Methods:

Sixty patients with severe sepsis (n = 30) and septic shock (n = 30) were recruited. Basal and postcosyntropin (1 μg)-stimulated cortisol levels were measured, and all patients were closely monitored with daily assessments of clinical and laboratory variables. Western diagnostic criteria were followed for defining adrenal insufficiency (AI). The end point was the survival assessed at day 28 or death, whichever came earlier.


The mean basal (T0) and poststimulation (T30) cortisol levels were 31.77 ± 15.9 μg/dL and 37.58 ± 17.31 μg/dL, respectively. In all sepsis patients, 48.33% qualified as AI at T0 ≤ 24 μg/dL, 61.67% at delta cortisol (Δ = T30-T0) ≤7 μg/dL, and 78.33% at Δ ≤9 μg/dL. Using receiver operating characteristic curve, the area under the curve (AUC) was 0.4954, signifying poor prediction to death.


Indians have completely different characteristics of cortisol levels in sepsis patients, in comparison to the Western data. They have higher range of basal cortisol levels, higher percentage of AI, and an inability to predict mortality with the cortisol levels. Hence, there is requirement of an international study to confirm the dichotomy of the results.


Adrenal insufficiency; corticosteroid; cosyntropin stimulation test; critical illness-related corticosteroid insufficiency

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