Metabolic Resuscitation Using Ascorbic Acid, Thiamine, and Glucocorticoids in Sepsis. (ORANGES)

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Know the risks and potential benefits of clinical studies and talk to your health care provider before participating. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT03422159
Recruitment Status : Recruiting
First Posted : February 5, 2018
Last Update Posted : June 14, 2018
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Community Medical Center, Toms River, NJ

Brief Summary:

This study has been created to compare the addition of intravenous (IV) vitamin C, thiamine, and hydrocortisone to the usual standard of care of sepsis and septic shock. Sepsis is a possibly life-threatening condition in which a patient may have organ dysfunction due to an infection. Septic shock is defined as low blood pressure and organ dysfunction that do not improve after administering IV fluids. Standard of care for sepsis and septic shock include early administration of IV antibiotics, IV fluids, and vasopressors if need be to provide oxygen to vital organs.

A large amount of experimental data has shown that vitamin C and corticosteroids decrease the release of inflammatory substances which may lead to organ failure seen in sepsis. Vitamin C and corticosteroids also improve blood flow to vital organs and increase the body's ability to respond well to vasopressor medications used in septic shock. Low blood levels of both thiamine and vitamin C are common in sepsis. The study will be placebo controlled, meaning one group will receive vitamin C, thiamine, and hydrocortisone, and the other will receive an inactive substance ("placebo"). The goal of the study is to compare the effects of receiving vitamin C, thiamine, and hydrocortisone (along with the standard sepsis care) versus placebo and standard sepsis care.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Sepsis, Severe Septic Shock Drug: Ascorbic Acid Drug: Thiamine Drug: Hydrocortisone Drug: Sodium Chloride 0.9% Phase 2

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Detailed Description:

The global burden of sepsis is substantial with an estimated 15 to 19 million cases per year; the vast majority of these cases occur in low income countries. With more timely diagnosis and improvement in supportive care the 28-day mortality from sepsis in high income countries has declined to about 25%, however, the mortality from septic shock remains as high as 45%. Moreover, the mortality from sepsis and septic shock in low income countries is reported to be as high as 60%. In addition to short term mortality, septic patients suffer from a numerous short- and long-term complications and are at an increased risk of death for up to five years following the acute event. Over the last 3 decades over 100 phase II and phase III clinical trial have been performed testing various novel pharmacologic agents and therapeutic intervention in an attempt to improve the outcome of patients with sepsis and septic shock; all of these studies have failed to show an improvement in patient outcomes. New therapeutic approaches to sepsis are desperately required; considering the global burden of sepsis these interventions should be effective, cheap, safe and readily available.

A large body of experimental data has demonstrated that both corticosteroids and intravenous vitamin C reduce activation of nuclear factor ƘB (NFƘB) attenuating the release of pro-inflammatory mediators, reduce the endothelial injury characteristic of sepsis thereby reducing endothelial permeability and improving macrocirculatory flow, augment the release of endogenous catecholamines and enhance vasopressor responsiveness. In animal models these effects have resulted in reduced organ injury and increased survival. Corticosteroids have been evaluated in several clinical trials, with meta-analysis of these trials demonstrating somewhat conflicting outcomes. Low-dose stress corticosteroids have proven to be safe with no increased risk of clinically important complications. While corticosteroids decrease vasopressor dependency the effect on survival is less clear.

Several studies have investigated the use of intravenous vitamin C in critically ill patients. Nathens et al randomized 595 surgical ICU patients (91% trauma patients) to receive intravenous vitamin C and vitamin E for up to 28 days.The vitamin combination was associated with a significant reduction in the incidence of multiple system organ failure (p=0.04) with a trend to reduced mortality and length of ICU stay. No adverse effects were noted with the vitamin combination. Fowler et al performed a pilot study in 24 patients with severe sepsis and septic shock. In this study patients were randomized to placebo (n=8), low dose intravenous vitamin C (50 mg/kg) (n=8) or high dose vitamin C (200mg/kg). Vitamin C attenuated the inflammatory response with both doses of the vitamin being devoid of any side effects. Although the Sequential Sepsis Related Organ Failure Score (SOFA) fell significantly in both treatment arms the study was underpowered to determine any outcome benefit. Zabet and colleagues performed a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in which they evaluated the role of intravenous vitamin C in a dose of 100 mg/kg/day (about 7g/day) in 28 surgical ICU patients with septic shock. In this study the mean dose of norepinephrine and duration of norepinephrine administration were significantly lower in the ascorbic acid than the placebo group. The 28-day mortality was significantly lower in the ascorbic acid than the placebo group (14% vs. 64%, p = 0.009). No side effects related to the vitamin C infusion were reported. Tanaka et al randomized 37 patients with severe burn to very high dose vitamin C (about 110g/day) or placebo. Patients who received vitamin C required less fluid resuscitation with a trend towards reduced length of stay and mortality. No adverse effects were noted with the very high dosages of vitamin C. Several studies have administered vitamin C in doses exceeding 100g/day as adjuvant therapy in patients with cancer with no discernable side effects. Vitamin C appears to be toxic to normal human cells (not cancer cells) at a concentration on greater than 25 millimole (mM). A dose of 6g/day will achieve a steady state serum concentration of about 240 micromole (uM) which is about 100 times less than the dose required to cause cellular toxicity. The package insert for vitamin C lists no contraindications or adverse effects of the drug and states that as much as "6 grams has been administered without evidence of toxicity". The only reported restriction to the use of high dose intravenous vitamin C is in patients with known glucose-6-phosphate deficiency (G6PD) in whom hemolysis has been reported. It is important to recognize that patents with sepsis predictably have very low serum vitamin C levels, which can only be corrected with intravenous vitamin C in a dose of more than 3gm per day. The low or undetectable levels of vitamin C likely result from the metabolic consumption of the molecule as well as increased renal losses. Furthermore, unlike all other mammals, primates and guinea pigs are unable synthesize vitamin C is due to mutations in the L-gulono-_-lactone oxidase (GLO) gene which codes for the enzyme responsible for catalyzing the last step of vitamin C biosynthesis. In almost all species, except humans and guinea pigs, vitamin C production increases during stress and is secreted by the adrenal gland; in these species vitamin C is best considered a stress "hormone". Vitamin C is an essential cofactor for the production of corticosteroids and catecholamines by the adrenal gland. Vitamin C has been shown to reverse adrenal suppression caused by induction doses of etomidate during anesthesia.

Ascorbate donates a single electron in all its redox reactions, generating the ascorbate radical. This radical is not very reactive with anything but itself. Dismutation of two ascorbate radicals forms a molecule each of ascorbate and dehydroascorbate. Hydrolysis of the lactone ring of dehydroascorbate irreversibly converts it to 2,3-diketo-1-gulonic acid which is then converted to oxalate. Oxalate is normally excreted by the kidney and serum levels will increase with renal impairment. In patients with renal impairment receiving mega-dose vitamin C, supersaturation of serum with oxalate may result in tissue deposition as well as crystallization in the kidney. Glyoxylate, a byproduct of intermediary metabolism, is either reduced to oxalate or oxidized to carbon dioxide (CO2) by the enzyme glyoxylate aminotransferase; thiamine pyrophosphate is a co-enzyme required for this reaction. Thiamine deficiency increases the conversion of glyoxylate to oxalate resulting in hyper- oxalosis. Donnino and colleagues have demonstrated that thiamine deficiency is common (32%) in patients with sepsis and that treatment with thiamine in these patients reduces mortality. In a post-hoc analysis of this study these authors demonstrated that thiamine decreased the risk of acute kidney injury and the required for renal replacement therapy in all treated patients.

It has previously been suggested that "...the best hope for therapeutic advances [in sepsis] will depend on broad-base targeting, in which multiple components are targeted at the same time." Such combination "chemo-therapy" targeting multiple biological pathways is the standard approach in the treatment of malignant disease. While the benefits of vitamin C, hydrocortisone, and thiamine alone are likely limited, the investigators believe that these medications act synergistically to reduce the risk of organ failure and death in patients with sepsis. This hypothesis is supported previous research and more recently a set of elegant experiments performed by Barabutis et al. Using a validated pulmonary endothelial monolayer model, these authors demonstrated that hydrocortisone together with vitamin C protected the vascular endothelium from damage by endotoxin while neither agent alone had this effect. Previous research has demonstrated that vitamin C reverses oxidation of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) a likely manifestation of sepsis. Oxidation of the GR limits binding of the GR to both ligand and DNA responsive units decreasing the activity of glucocorticoids. Furthermore, glucocorticoids increase the expression of the sodium vitamin C transporter-2 (SVCT-2) which is an essential transport protein necessary for vitamin C to be transported intracellularly.

The investigators therefore propose that a "metabolic resuscitation protocol" including vitamin C, corticosteroids and thiamine will limit the development of organ failure and reduce mortality in patients with severe sepsis and septic shock. This postulate is supported by the preliminary findings by Marik et al. In a retrospective before-after clinical study, these authors compared the outcome and clinical course of consecutive septic patients treated with intravenous vitamin C, hydrocortisone and thiamine during a 7-month period (treatment group) compared to a control group treated in during the preceding 7 months. The primary outcome was hospital survival. A propensity score was generated to adjust the primary outcome. There were 47 patients in both treatment and control groups with no significant differences in baseline characteristics between the two groups. The hospital mortality was 8.5% (4 of 47) in the treatment group compared to 40.4% (19 of 47) in the control group (p < 0.001). The propensity adjusted odds of mortality in the patients treated with the vitamin C protocol was 0.13 (95% CI 0.04-0.48, p=0.002). The SOFA score decreased in all patients in the treatment group with none developing progressive organ failure. Vasopressors were weaned off all patients in the treatment group, a mean of 18.3 ± 9.8 hours after starting treatment with vitamin C protocol. The mean duration of vasopressor use was 54.9 ± 28.4 hours in the control group (p<0.001). The results of this study provide sufficient information for the design of an adequately powered, pragmatic randomized controlled trial.

Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Estimated Enrollment : 140 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Intervention Model Description: This is a double-blind placebo controlled study. Only the dispensing pharmacist will be aware of the treatment allocation. Patients will be randomized to receive either vitamin C/hydrocortisone/thiamine or triple placebo using a random number table provided to the dispensing pharmacists. Each patient will be allocated a unique subject ID which will be linked to the randomization sequence. Only the dispensing pharmacists will have a record of the subject ID and randomization sequence.
Masking: Triple (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator)
Masking Description: Patients will be randomized to receive either vitamin C/hydrocortisone/thiamine or triple placebo using a random number table provided to the dispensing pharmacists. Each patient will be allocated a unique subject ID which will be linked to the randomization sequence. Only the dispensing pharmacists will have a record of the subject ID and randomization sequence.
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Outcomes of Metabolic Resuscitation Using Ascorbic Acid, Thiamine, and Glucocorticoids in the Early Treatment of Sepsis.
Actual Study Start Date : February 5, 2018
Estimated Primary Completion Date : February 5, 2019
Estimated Study Completion Date : June 1, 2019

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Treatment Arm
Based on published clinical data, vitamin C pharmacokinetic modeling, the package insert as well as the preliminary study by Marik et al, Vitamin C will be administered as an intravenous dose of 6gm per day divided in 4 equal doses. This dosage is reported to be devoid of any complications or side effects. Hydrocortisone will be dosed according to the consensus guidelines of the American College of Critical Care Medicine. Thiamine will be administered according to current recommendations in a dose of 200mg q 12 hourly. This will be continued for 4 days, or less if discharged from the ICU prior.
Drug: Ascorbic Acid
Ascorbic Acid 1.5g IV piggyback every 6 hours for 4 days (or discharge from ICU if prior to 4 days).
Other Name: Vitamin C

Drug: Thiamine
Thiamine 200mg IV piggyback every 12 hours for 4 days (or discharge from ICU if prior to 4 days).

Drug: Hydrocortisone
Hydrocortisone 50mg IV push every 6 hours for 4 days (or discharge from ICU if prior to 4 days).
Other Name: Solucortef

Placebo Comparator: Placebo Arm
Vitamin C placebo will consist of an identical bag of 100mL normal saline (but with no vitamin C) and will be labeled "Vitamin C or Placebo". Placebo will be infused over 30 minutes as per the infusion instructions of the active vitamin and protected from light with a brown bag. Hydrocortisone placebo will be provided as an identical 3mL syringe as 1mL of normal saline.The thiamine placebo will be placed in a 50mL bag of Normal Saline labeled "Thiamine 200mg or Placebo" and run over 30 minutes (100mL/hr) Placebo patients will receive a matching 50mL bag of Normal Saline. All of these will be given for up to 4 days, or less if discharged from the ICU prior.
Drug: Sodium Chloride 0.9%
Placebo "Ascorbic Acid" 100mL IV piggyback every 6 hours, Placebo "Thiamine" 50mL IV piggyback every 12 hours, and Placebo "Hydrocortisone" IV push every 6 hours for 4 days (or discharge from ICU if prior to 4 days).
Other Name: Placebo

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Hospital Mortality [ Time Frame: Through study completion ]
    In-hospital mortality rate.

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. 28-day mortality [ Time Frame: 28 days post-randomization ]
    28 day mortality rate

  2. Time to vasopressor independence (hours) [ Time Frame: Through study completion ]
    Defined as the time from starting the active treatment/placebo to discontinuation of all pressors.

  3. Procalcitonin (PCT) clearance [ Time Frame: 4 days post-randomization ]
    PCT at 96 hours minus initial PCT, divided by the initial PCT multiplied by 100.

  4. Change in Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score [ Time Frame: 4 days post-randomization ]
    Defined as the day 4 post-randomization SOFA score minus the initial SOFA score. SOFA score ranges from 0 (no organ dysfunction) to 24 (highest possible score / organ dysfunction).

  5. ICU Mortality [ Time Frame: Through study completion ]
    ICU mortality rate

  6. ICU Length of Stay [ Time Frame: Through study completion ]
    Time from admitting to ICU to discharge.

  7. ICU-Free Days [ Time Frame: 28 Days post-randomization ]
    Number of days alive and out of the ICU at day 28.

  8. Hospital Length of Stay [ Time Frame: Through study completion ]
    Time from admitting to discharge of hospital stay.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

i. Diagnosis of sepsis or septic shock within 12 hours of admission to the ICU ii. Informed consent as dictated by IRB and local practice. iii. Compliance with the 3 hour sepsis bundle

  • 30ml/kg of intravenous crystalloid fluid (e.g.: sodium chloride 0.9%) for lactic acid >4 and/or systolic blood pressure <90mmHg / mean arterial pressure <65mmHg
  • Lactic acid level drawn
  • Broad spectrum antibiotics given after obtaining blood cultures

Exclusion Criteria:

i. Age < 18 years ii. Pregnant iii. DNR/DNI with limitations of care on admission iv. Patients with terminal end stage disease (i.e. stage IV cancer, end stage heart failure) that are unlikely to survive to hospital discharge v. Patients with a primary admitting diagnosis of an acute cerebral vascular event, acute coronary syndrome, active gastrointestinal bleeding, burn or trauma [64-66] vi. Requirement for immediate surgery [64-66] vii. Patients with HIV and a CD4 < 50 mm2 [64-66] viii. Patients with known glucose-6 phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6PD) deficiency.[39] ix. Patients with sepsis/septic shock transferred from another hospital x. Patients with features of sepsis/septic shock > 24 hours after admission

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT03422159

Contact: Andrew V Vassallo, PharmD 732-557-8000 ext 12929

United States, New Jersey
Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus Not yet recruiting
Lakewood, New Jersey, United States, 08701
Contact: Yasmine Elbaga, PharmD         
Community Medical Center Recruiting
Toms River, New Jersey, United States, 08755
Contact: Andrew V Vassallo, PharmD    732-557-8000 ext 11992   
Contact: Jose Iglesias, DO         
Sponsors and Collaborators
Community Medical Center, Toms River, NJ
  Study Documents (Full-Text)

Documents provided by Community Medical Center, Toms River, NJ:
Informed Consent Form  [PDF] June 6, 2017
Study Protocol  [PDF] October 31, 2017

The 10 leading causes of death by country income group 2012. WHO factsheets. . 2015. World Health Organization. 5-24-2016.
de Grooth HJ, Choo WP, Spoelstra-de Man AM et al. Pharmacokinetics of four high- dose regimens of intravenous Vitamin C in critically ill patients [Abstract]. Intensive Care Med 2016.
Ascorbic Acid Injection. . 2015. The Torrance Company. 6-12-2016.
Nooraei N, Fathi M, Edalat L et al. Effect of Vitamin C on serum cortisol after etomidate induction of anesthesia. J Cell Mol Anesth 2016; 1:28-33.
Marik PE. The physiology of volume resuscitation. Curr Anesthesiol Rep 2014; 4:353-59.
Rhodes A, Evans LE, Alhazzani W, Levy MM, Antonelli M, Ferrer R, Kumar A, Sevransky JE, Sprung CL, Nunnally ME, Rochwerg B, Rubenfeld GD, Angus DC, Annane D, Beale RJ, Bellinghan GJ, Bernard GR, Chiche JD, Coopersmith C, De Backer DP, French CJ, Fujishima S, Gerlach H, Hidalgo JL, Hollenberg SM, Jones AE, Karnad DR, Kleinpell RM, Koh Y, Lisboa TC, Machado FR, Marini JJ, Marshall JC, Mazuski JE, McIntyre LA, McLean AS, Mehta S, Moreno RP, Myburgh J, Navalesi P, Nishida O, Osborn TM, Perner A, Plunkett CM, Ranieri M, Schorr CA, Seckel MA, Seymour CW, Shieh L, Shukri KA, Simpson SQ, Singer M, Thompson BT, Townsend SR, Van der Poll T, Vincent JL, Wiersinga WJ, Zimmerman JL, Dellinger RP. Surviving Sepsis Campaign: International Guidelines for Management of Sepsis and Septic Shock: 2016. Intensive Care Med. 2017 Mar;43(3):304-377. doi: 10.1007/s00134-017-4683-6. Epub 2017 Jan 18.

Responsible Party: Community Medical Center, Toms River, NJ Identifier: NCT03422159     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 17-004
First Posted: February 5, 2018    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: June 14, 2018
Last Verified: June 2018

Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Drug Product: Yes
Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Device Product: No
Product Manufactured in and Exported from the U.S.: No

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Shock, Septic
Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome
Pathologic Processes
Ascorbic Acid
Hydrocortisone 17-butyrate 21-propionate
Hydrocortisone acetate
Cortisol succinate
Growth Substances
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Protective Agents
Anti-Inflammatory Agents
Hormones, Hormone Substitutes, and Hormone Antagonists
Vitamin B Complex