(1) Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA 23507, USA
(2) Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Research Centre, Melbourne, Australia
* Corresponding author Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
An increased blood lactate level is widely believed to be a marker of inadequate oxygen delivery and anaerobic metabolism. Furthermore, the rate of decline in lactate concentration (lactate clearance) has been recommended as an end-point of early goal-directed therapy in critical ill patients with sepsis. We provide compelling data that an elevated lactate concentration is a consequence of increased aerobic glycolysis as part of the stress response and that titrating therapy to the rate of decline in lactate concentration is a potentially harmful endeavour. Furthermore, an increased lactate concentration may be an important adaptive survival response during critical illness.
An elevated lactate concentration in patients with sepsis is a marker of disease severity and not an indication of anaerobic metabolism. Increasing oxygen delivery to treat a non-existent oxygen debt may be a harmful undertaking. ‘Lactate clearance‚ should not be used as the end-point of resuscitation in patients with sepsis.