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Scientific literature review: sepsis

There are a huge number of peer-reviewed papers covering sepsis, and it is frequently difficult for healthcare professionals to keep up with the literature. As a special service to our readers, CLI presents a few key abstracts from the clinical and scientific literature chosen by our editorial board as being particularly worthy of attention.

Predictors of survival in sepsis: what is the best inflammatory marker to measure?

Lichtenstern C et al. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2012 Jun;25(3):328-36.

Beyond the widely used acute-phase proteins C-reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin (PCT) in sepsis manegement, many new molecules have been studied deriving from different organs or cells affected, due to the systemic nature of sepsis. Cytokines, coagulation factors/characteristics, vasoactive hormones and several others have recently proved to be relevant in sepsis syndrome and probably useful for outcome prediction. However, single time point measurements may be less predictive than consideration of the time-dependent course of parameters. Many biomarkers display relevant correlation with the clinical outcome of patients with severe sepsis and septic shock. Consideration of their time courses may be more reliable than absolute levels. Clinical decision should not only be based on biomarkers but organ dysfunctions, for example, should also be taken into account.

Cytokine profiles of preterm neonates with fungal and bacterial sepsis

Sood BG et al. Pediatr Res. 2012 May 4.

Information on cytokine profiles in fungal sepsis (FS), an important cause of mortality in extremely low birthweight infants (ELBW), is lacking. The authors hypothesised that cytokine profiles in the 1st 21 days of life in ELBW with FS differ from those with bacterial sepsis (BS) or no sepsis (NS). In a secondary analyses of the NICHD Cytokine study, three groups were defined – FS (≥1 episode of FS), BS (≥1 episode of BS without FS) and NS. Association between 11 cytokines assayed in dried blood spots obtained on days 0-1, 3±1, 7±2, 14±3, and 21±3 and sepsis group was explored.Of 1066 infants, 89 had FS and 368 had BS. Compared to BS, FS was more likely to be associated with lower birthweight, vaginal delivery, patent ductus arteriosus, postnatal steroids, multiple central lines, longer respiratory support and hospital stay, and higher mortality (p<0.05). Analyses controlling for covariates showed significant group differences over time for IFN-γ, IL-10, IL-18, TGF-β and TNF-α (p<0.05). These differences, which may have implications for diagnosis and treatment, require validation in rigorously designed prospective studies.

Prognostic value of proadrenomedullin in severe sepsis and septic shock patients with community-acquired pneumonia

Suberviola B et al. Prieto B. Swiss Med Wkly. 2012 Mar 19;142:w13542.

Midregional proadrenomedullin (proADM) is a novel biomarker with potential prognostic utility in patients with community-acquired pneumonia. The aim of this study was to investigate the value of proADM levels for severity assessment and outcome prediction in severe sepsis and septic shock due to CAP. The prospective observational study included 49 patients admitted to ICU with both a clinical and radiologic diagnosis of pneumonia and fulfilling criteria for severe sepsis or septic shock. The prognostic accuracy of proADM levels was compared with those of pneumonia severity index and of procalcitonin (PCT) and C-reactive protein (CRP). Forty-nine patients with severe sepsis or septic shock due to CAP were included in the study. Mortality was 24.5% for ICU and 34.7% for hospital mortality. In all cases proADM values at ICU admission were pathological (considering normal proADM levels <4 nmol/L). ProADM consistently rose as PSI class advanced from II to V (p = 0.02). Median proADM levels were higher (p <0.01) in hospital non-survivors 5.0 (1.9-10.1) nmol/L vs. survivors 1.7 (1.3-3.1) nmol/L. These differences were also significant with respect to ICU mortality. The receiver-operating characteristic curve for proADM yielded an AUC of 0.72; better than the AUC for PCT and CRP (0.40 and 0.44 respectively) and similar to PSI (0.74). In this study MR-proADM levels correlated with increasing severity of illness and death. High MR-proADM levels thus offer additional risk stratification in high-risk CAP patients.