Immunonutrition in septic patients: A philosophical view of the current situation

Guido Bertolini, Davide Luciani, Gianni Biolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background & aims: Two different ways of thinking pervaded the history of science: rationalism and empiricism. In theory, these two paradigms are not necessarily in conflict. In practice, there has always been tension between them. The coming of evidence-based medicine put empiricism in a privileged position, but empiricism without a rationalistic guide could even be usefulness. The aim of this work is to present the tension between the rational reasons to administer immunonutrients to patients with sepsis and the controversial empirical evidence stemming from clinical trials. Methods: We reviewed the literature on immunonutrition in sepsis from the rationalist and the empiricist perspectives. Results: The large body of evidence for positive effects of immunonutrients in experimental models and the contradictory results from clinical trials make the discussion on immunonutrition in sepsis a typical example where the conflict between rationalism and empiricism hampered the advancement of knowledge and the implementation of new effective therapies into clinical practice. Conclusions: Future research projects involving immunonutrients should be based on robust knowledge of basic mechanisms of action to be properly addressed in clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-29
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007


  • Critically ill patients
  • Immunonutrition
  • Sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Gastroenterology
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Immunonutrition in septic patients: A philosophical view of the current situation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this