Cortisol and corticotrophin in burned patients

George M. Vaughan, Richard A. Becker, John P. Allen, Cleon W. Goodwin, Basil A. Pruitt, Arthur D. Mason

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156 Scopus citations


In a study of 36 men burned in a fire, based on sequential early morning samples, plasma cortisol concentration was elevated in proportion to bum size. Plasma corticotrophin (ACTH) was not correlated with bum size, suggesting that factors other then ACTH contribute to the elevated cortisol. Cortisol levels did not fall on the days preceding death in nonsurvivors. During 24-hr sampling, burned patients exhibited a fitted cortisol curve mean that was elevated in proportion to bum size, a rhythm amplitude that was significantly less than that in uninjured controls, and a normal peak time. Metabolic rate, rectal temperature, and urinary catecholamine excretion were also elevated in proportion to bum size. Although plasma cortisol was positively correlated with metabolic rate and with temperature, this appeared to result from a common relationship of these variables with burn size. On the other hand, urinary catecholamine values significantly reduced the residual variance of metabolic rate and temperature after accounting for variance related to bum size. Cortisol appears to be less prominent than catecholamines as a possible mediator of the elevated thermogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-273
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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