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Anaerobic Lactate Production Is Associated With Decreased Microcirculatory Blood Flow and Decreased Mitochondrial Respiration Following Cardiovascular Surgery With Cardiopulmonary Bypass.

OBJECTIVES: Quantify the relationship between perioperative anaerobic lactate production, microcirculatory blood flow, and mitochondrial respiration in patients after cardiovascular surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass.

DESIGN: Serial measurements of lactate-pyruvate ratio (LPR), microcirculatory blood flow, plasma tricarboxylic acid cycle cycle intermediates, and mitochondrial respiration were compared between patients with a normal peak lactate (≤ 2 mmol/L) and a high peak lactate (≥ 4 mmol/L) in the first 6 hours after surgery. Regression analysis was performed to quantify the relationship between clinically relevant hemodynamic variables, lactate, LPR, and microcirculatory blood flow.

SETTING: This was a single-center, prospective observational study conducted in an academic cardiovascular ICU.

PATIENTS: One hundred thirty-two patients undergoing elective cardiovascular surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass.


MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Patients with a high postoperative lactate were found to have a higher LPR compared with patients with a normal postoperative lactate (14.4 ± 2.5 vs. 11.7 ± 3.4; p = 0.005). Linear regression analysis found a significant, negative relationship between LPR and microcirculatory flow index (r = -0.225; β = -0.037; p = 0.001 and proportion of perfused vessels: r = -0.17; β = -0.468; p = 0.009). There was not a significant relationship between absolute plasma lactate and microcirculation variables. Last, mitochondrial complex I and complex II oxidative phosphorylation were reduced in patients with high postoperative lactate levels compared with patients with normal lactate (22.6 ± 6.2 vs. 14.5 ± 7.4 pmol O2/s/106 cells; p = 0.002).

CONCLUSIONS: Increased anaerobic lactate production, estimated by LPR, has a negative relationship with microcirculatory blood flow after cardiovascular surgery. This relationship does not persist when measuring lactate alone. In addition, decreased mitochondrial respiration is associated with increased lactate after cardiovascular surgery. These findings suggest that high lactate levels after cardiovascular surgery, even in the setting of normal hemodynamics, are not simply a type B phenomenon as previously suggested.

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