The effect of glucose administration on carbohydrate metabolism after head injury

C. S. Robertson, J. C. Goodman, R. K. Narayan, C. F. Contant, Robert G. Grossman

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62 Scopus citations


The role of intravenous infusion of glucose in limiting ketogenesis and the effect of glucose on cerebral metabolism following severe head injury were studied in 21 comatose patients. The patients were randomly assigned to alimentation with or without glucose. Systemic protein wasting, arterial concentrations of energy substrates, and cerebral metabolism of these energy substrates were monitored for 5 days postinjury. Both groups were in negative nitrogen balance, and had wasting of systemic proteins despite substantial protein intake. Blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) glucose concentrations were highest on Day 1, but remained higher than normal fasting levels on all days of study, even in the patients who received no exogenous glucose. Although there were no differences in blood or CSF glucose concentrations in the two groups of patients, the glucose group had higher plasma insulin levels, with a mean ± standard deviation of 14.8 ± 7.3 μU/ml compared to 10.3 ± 4.2 μU/ml in the saline group. The blood concentrations of β-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate, pyruvate, glycerol, and the free fatty acids were higher in the saline group than in the glucose group. Cerebral oxygen consumption was similar in the two groups, while the cerebral metabolism of glucose and of the ketone bodies was dependent on whether glucose was administered. In the glucose group, glucose was the only energy substrate utilized by the brain. In the saline group, the ketone bodies β-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate replaced glucose to the extent of 16% of the brain's total energy production. Cerebral lactate production and CSF lactate concentration were lower in the saline group. These studies suggest that administration of glucose during the early recovery period of severe head injury is a major cause of suppressed ketogenesis, and may increase production of lactic acid by the traumatized brain by limiting the availability of nonglycolytic energy substrates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1991


  • alimentation
  • cerebral metabolism
  • head injury
  • hyperglycemia
  • ketone bodies
  • lactic acidosis
  • nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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