Age-Dependent Myocardial Dysfunction in Critically Ill Patients: Role of Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Myocardial dysfunction is common in septic shock and post-cardiac arrest but manifests differently in pediatric and adult patients. By conventional echocardiographic parameters, biventricular systolic dysfunction is more prevalent in children with septic shock, though strain imaging reveals that myocardial injury may be more common in adults than previously thought. In contrast, diastolic dysfunction in general and post-arrest myocardial systolic dysfunction appear to be more widespread in the adult population. A growing body of evidence suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction mediates myocardial depression in critical illness; alterations in mitochondrial electron transport system function, bioenergetic production, oxidative and nitrosative stress, uncoupling, mitochondrial permeability transition, fusion, fission, biogenesis, and autophagy all may play key pathophysiologic roles. In this review we summarize the epidemiologic and clinical phenotypes of myocardial dysfunction in septic shock and post-cardiac arrest and the multifaceted manifestations of mitochondrial injury in these disease processes. Since neonatal and pediatric-specific data for mitochondrial dysfunction remain sparse, conclusive age-dependent differences are not clear; instead, we highlight what evidence exists and identify gaps in knowledge to guide future research. Finally, since focal ischemic injury (with or without reperfusion) leading to myocardial infarction is predominantly an atherosclerotic disease of the elderly, this review focuses specifically on septic shock and global ischemia-reperfusion injury occurring after resuscitation from cardiac arrest.