The effect of insulin infusion upon protein metabolism in neonates on extracorporeal life support

Michael S D Agus, Patrick J. Javid, Hannah G. Piper, David Wypij, Christopher P. Duggan, Daniel P. Ryan, Tom Jaksic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Critically ill neonates on extracorporeal life support (ECLS) demonstrate elevated rates of protein breakdown that, in turn, are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. This study sought to determine if the administration of the anabolic hormone insulin improved net protein balance in neonates on ECLS. METHODS: Twelve parenterally fed neonates, on ECLS, were enrolled in a randomized, prospective, crossover trial. Subjects were administered a hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp and a control saline infusion. Protein metabolism was quantified using ring-D5-phenylyalanine and ring-D2-tyrosine stable isotopic infusions. Statistical comparisons were made by paired sample t tests (significance at P < 0.05). RESULTS: Serum insulin concentration increased 20-fold during insulin infusion compared with saline infusion control (P < 0.0001). Protein breakdown was significantly decreased during insulin infusion compared with controls (7.98 ± 1.82 vs. 6.89 ± 1.03 g/kg per day; P < 0.05). Serum amino acid concentrations were significantly decreased by insulin infusion (28,450 ± 9270 vs. 20,830 ± 8110 μmol/L; P < 0.02). Insulin administration tended to decrease protein synthesis (9.58 ± 2.10 g/kg per day vs. 8.60 ± 1.20; P = 0.05). For the whole cohort, insulin only slightly improved net protein balance (protein synthesis minus protein breakdown) (1.60 ± 0.80 vs. 1.71 ± 0.89 g/kg per day; P = 0.08). In neonates receiving ≥2 g/kg per day of dietary amino acids insulin significantly improved net protein balance (2.17 ± 0.34 vs. 2.40 ± 0.26 g/kg per day; P < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS; Insulin effectively decreases protein breakdown in critically ill neonates on ECLS. However, this is associated with a significant reduction in plasma amino acids and a trend toward decreased protein synthesis. Insulin administration significantly improves net protein balance only in those ECLS neonates in whom adequate dietary protein is provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-543
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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