Neurocritical Care

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 311–319 | Cite as

Reduced Brain/Serum Glucose Ratios Predict Cerebral Metabolic Distress and Mortality After Severe Brain Injury

  • Pedro Kurtz
  • Jan Claassen
  • J. Michael Schmidt
  • Raimund Helbok
  • Khalid A. Hanafy
  • Mary Presciutti
  • Hector Lantigua
  • E. Sander Connolly
  • Kiwon Lee
  • Neeraj Badjatia
  • Stephan A. Mayer
Original Article



The brain is dependent on glucose to meet its energy demands. We sought to evaluate the potential importance of impaired glucose transport by assessing the relationship between brain/serum glucose ratios, cerebral metabolic distress, and mortality after severe brain injury.


We studied 46 consecutive comatose patients with subarachnoid or intracerebral hemorrhage, traumatic brain injury, or cardiac arrest who underwent cerebral microdialysis and intracranial pressure monitoring. Continuous insulin infusion was used to maintain target serum glucose levels of 80–120 mg/dL (4.4–6.7 mmol/L). General linear models of logistic function utilizing generalized estimating equations were used to relate predictors of cerebral metabolic distress (defined as a lactate/pyruvate ratio [LPR] ≥ 40) and mortality.


A total of 5,187 neuromonitoring hours over 300 days were analyzed. Mean serum glucose was 133 mg/dL (7.4 mmol/L). The median brain/serum glucose ratio, calculated hourly, was substantially lower (0.12) than the expected normal ratio of 0.40 (brain 2.0 and serum 5.0 mmol/L). In addition to low cerebral perfusion pressure (P = 0.05) and baseline Glasgow Coma Scale score (P < 0.0001), brain/serum glucose ratios below the median of 0.12 were independently associated with an increased risk of metabolic distress (adjusted OR = 1.4 [1.2–1.7], P < 0.001). Low brain/serum glucose ratios were also independently associated with in-hospital mortality (adjusted OR = 6.7 [1.2–38.9], P < 0.03) in addition to Glasgow Coma Scale scores (P = 0.029).


Reduced brain/serum glucose ratios, consistent with impaired glucose transport across the blood brain barrier, are associated with cerebral metabolic distress and increased mortality after severe brain injury.


Brain injury Coma Cerebral microdialysis Glucose Metabolism Glucose transport 



This work was supported in part by a grant from the Charles A. Dana Foundation. The project described was also supported by Grant UL1 RR024156 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, and its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of NCRR or NIH. The authors were solely responsible for the study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation of the data, writing the manuscript, and in the decision to submit for publication.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pedro Kurtz
    • 1
  • Jan Claassen
    • 1
  • J. Michael Schmidt
    • 1
  • Raimund Helbok
    • 1
  • Khalid A. Hanafy
    • 1
  • Mary Presciutti
    • 1
  • Hector Lantigua
    • 1
  • E. Sander Connolly
    • 1
  • Kiwon Lee
    • 1
  • Neeraj Badjatia
    • 1
  • Stephan A. Mayer
    • 1
  1. 1.Neurological Intensive Care Unit, Departments of Neurology and NeurosurgeryColumbia University College of Physicians and SurgeonsNew YorkUSA

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