The role of glucocorticoids in sodium retention in cirrhotic patients: a double blind, randomized, crossover study
Højmark Hansen, M.; Kristensen, S.Skott.; Schaffalitzky de Muckadell, O.B.; Thiesson, H.Charlotte.; Andrew, R.; Dam Fialla, A.
Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 47(8-9): 1030-1036
Cirrhotic patients have an increased ratio of urinary cortisol to cortisone metabolites, indicating decreased renal 11-β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type-2 activity. This suggests that cortisol--by activation of the mineralocorticoid receptor--may contribute to the abnormal sodium retention evident in cirrhosis. The aim was to elucidate the role of glucocorticoids in sodium retention in decompensated cirrhotic patients. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study was performed in nine patients with alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. A washout interval of 14 days separated the two periods. After a basal period of 36 h, dexamethasone (0.5 mg every 6 h) or placebo was given for two days. Urine was collected for 12 h periods, and the concentrations of sodium, potassium, creatinine, cortisol and cortisol metabolites were determined. Blood samples for hemoglobin, glucose, sodium, potassium, creatinine, aldosterone and cortisol were obtained daily. Dexamethasone treatment decreased S-cortisol 92.3% (82.9-93.4%) (median and range) compared with that in the basal period. Natriuresis (dexamethasone--placebo) increased 55.1 (-26.4-168.7) mmol/day (median and range). No statistically significant differences (dexamethasone--placebo) were found in changes in body weight (0.00 (-0.45-2.20) kg/day), diuresis (0.56 (-0.35-1.43) L/day) or mean arterial pressure (8.33 (-16.0-41.3) mmHg) (median and range) in reference to the preceding 24 h basal period. These results indicate that endogenous glucocorticoids contribute to the sodium retention in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver.