More humans die in the intensive care unit from sepsis than from any other cause. Death from sepsis is the culmination of widespread hypoperfusion, cellular hypoxia, and multiple organ failure. A growing body of evidence shows that early therapeutic intervention improves outcomes for patients with sepsis. Novel targeted strategies that bolster a strong and durable systemic hemodynamic response have been proven to reduce or even reverse organ dysfunction in patients with sepsis.
The Rapid Administration of Carnitine in sEpsis (RACE) trial has the overall goal to investigate L-carnitine as a novel adjunctive treatment of septic shock. The trial is a phase II, double blinded, placebo controlled, adaptive randomized trial of 250 eligible patients with vasopressor-dependent septic shock. Study subjects will be assigned to one of four arms: low (6g), medium (12g) or high (18g) dose intravenous L-carnitine or placebo for 12 hours as a part of early resuscitative care. Our first aim is to assess whether L-carnitine reduces cumulative organ failure in patients with septic shock.
The first efficacy endpoint of the trial is reduction in cumulative organ failure, defined as a decrease in the sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) score at 48 hours after treatment. The SOFA data will be used to preferentially allocate subsequent patients to the L-carnitine dose that is most effective. As the trial progresses 28-day mortality data will be used to determine the probability that the dose of L-carnitine associated with the largest decrease in SOFA score would demonstrate efficacy in a subsequent phase III trial. An ancillary aim of the trial is to assess if L-carnitine improves blood flow in the sublingual microvasculature during septic shock. We will use sidestream dark-field video-microscopy imaging of the sublingual microcirculation to directly visualize microcirculatory flow and to determine the effect of L-carnitine and placebo treatment on change in flow.