Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Micronutrients as therapy in critical illness.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Recent large-scale randomized controlled trials (RCTs) challenged current beliefs about the potential role of micronutrients to attenuate the inflammatory response and improve clinical outcomes of critically ill patients. The purpose of this narrative review is to provide an overview and critical discussion about most recent clinical trials, which evaluated the clinical significance of a vitamin C, vitamin D, or selenium administration in critically ill patients.

RECENT FINDINGS: None of the most recent large-scale RCTs could demonstrate any clinical benefits for a micronutrient administration in ICU patients, whereas a recent RCT indicated harmful effects, if high dose vitamin C was administered in septic patients. Following meta-analyses could not confirm harmful effects for high dose vitamin C in general critically ill patients and indicated benefits in the subgroup of general ICU patients with higher mortality risk. For vitamin D, the most recent large-scale RCT could not demonstrate clinical benefits for critically ill patients, whereas another large-scale RCT is still ongoing. The aggregated and meta-analyzed evidence highlighted a potential role for intravenous vitamin D administration, which encourages further research. In high-risk cardiac surgery patients, a perioperative application of high-dose selenium was unable to improve patients' outcome. The observed increase of selenium levels in the patients' blood did not translate into an increase of antioxidative or anti-inflammatory enzymes, which illuminates the urgent need for more research to identify potential confounding factors.

SUMMARY: Current data received from most recent large-scale RCTs could not demonstrate clinically meaningful effects of an intervention with either vitamin C, vitamin D, or selenium in critically ill patients. More attention is needed to carefully identify potential confounding factors and to better evaluate the role of timing, duration, and combined strategies.

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