Creating the best conditions for cells to make energy and survive critical illness is a challenge little understood in modern medicine. Now a new study led by scientists at the University of Plymouth, in collaboration with University College London and the Universities of Cambridge and Southampton, shows early signs that cells in some critically ill patients actually adapt to their conditions by producing energy more efficiently.
The research, published in the journal Redox Biology, took muscle and blood samples over seven days from 21 critically ill patients (i.e. those with two or more organs failing) in intensive care, and 12 healthy people, comparing cells’ behaviour.
The study showed that all of the critically ill patients produced energy more efficiently than healthy people, in a pattern of changes that has previously been identified in cells adapting to low oxygen levels. There were also differences in the ways cells produced energy in the patients who survived, compared to those who died.