Crit Care. 2022 Jan 5;26(1):3. doi: 10.1186/s13054-021-03872-3.
BACKGROUND: Previous randomized trials of vitamin C, hydrocortisone, and thiamine on sepsis were limited by short-term vitamin C administration, heterogeneous populations, and the failure to evaluate each component's effect. The purpose of this study was to determine whether vitamin C alone for ≥ 5 days or in combination with corticosteroids and/or thiamine was associated with decreased mortality across the sepsis population and subpopulation.
METHODS: Nationwide population-based study conducted using the Korean National Health Insurance Service database. A total of 384,282 adult patients with sepsis who were admitted to the intensive care unit were enrolled from January 2017 to December 2019. The primary outcome was hospital mortality, while the key secondary outcome was 90-day mortality.
RESULTS: The mean [standard deviation] age was 69.0 [15.4] years; 57% were male; and 36,327 (9%) and 347,955 did and did not receive vitamin C, respectively. After propensity score matching, each group involved 36,327 patients. The hospital mortality was lower by - 0.9% in the treatment group (17.1% vs 18.0%; 95% confidence interval, - 1.3 to - 0.5%; p < 0.001), a significant but extremely small difference. However, mortality decreased greater in patients who received vitamin C for ≥ 5 days (vs 1-2 or 3-4 days) (15.8% vs 18.8% vs 18.3%; p < 0.001). Further, vitamin C was associated with a lower hospital mortality in patients with older age, multiple comorbidities, pneumonia, genitourinary infection, septic shock, and mechanical ventilation. Consistent findings were found for 90-day mortality. Moreover, vitamin C alone or in combination with thiamine was significantly associated with decreased hospital mortality.
CONCLUSIONS: Intravenous vitamin C of ≥ 5 days was significantly associated with decreased hospital and 90-day mortality in sepsis patients. Vitamin C combined with corticosteroids and/or thiamine in specific sepsis subgroups warrants further study.