• Sepsis, like trauma, causes proteolysis of skeletal muscle. Insulin normally protects against muscle protein degradation. In earlier work using a rat muscle preparation, insulin inhibition of proteolysis decreased in the presence of plasma from injured patients. The current experiments tested the effect of plasma from septic patients on insulin inhibition in the same model. The mean value of protein degradation among eight septic plasma samples was 49% greater than the mean value among five normal plasma samples in soleus muscle and 45% greater in extensor digitorum longus muscle. In the presence of insulin, 103 mU/L, the increases in degradation with septic plasma were 42% in soleus muscle and 48% in extensor digitorum longus muscle. Insulin reduced degradation an average of 6% (soleus) and 10% (extensor digitorum longus) in normal plasma and 10% (soleus) and 8% (extensor digitorum longus) in septic plasma. In contrast to results of other studies, these experiments show that the protective effect of a moderate concentration of insulin in resisting muscle protein degradation is not significantly different in the presence of septic human plasma compared with normal plasma. This finding supports clinical efforts to decrease proteolysis in septic patients by the administration of insulin.
(Arch Surg. 1990;125:396-398)