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1.  Serum procalcitonin: Early detection of neonatal bacteremia and septicemia in a tertiary healthcare facility 
The benefits of procalcitonin measurement in neonatal bacteremia/septicemia with suspected nosocomial infection are unclear and unresearched.
The aim of the study was to assess procalcitonin value as an early or first line diagnosis/prognosis for bacterial neonatal septicemic infection in selected critically ill neonates.
Patients and Methods:
An observational cohort study in a 10-bed intensive care unit was performed. Sixty neonates, with either proven or clinically suspected, but not confirmed, bacterial neonatal septicemic infection were included. Procalcitonin measurements were obtained on the day when the infection was suspected. Neonates with proven septicemic infection were compared to those without. The diagnostic value of procalcitonin was determined through the area under the corresponding receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROCC). In addition, the predictive value of procalcitonin variations preceding the clinical suspicion of infection was also assessed.
Procalcitonin was the best early predictor of proven infection in this population of neonates with a clinical suspicion of septicemia (AUROCC = 0.80; 91.6% CI, 0.68–0.91). In contrast, CRP elevation, leukocyte count and fever had a poor predictive value in our population.
PCT monitoring could be helpful in the early diagnosis of neonatal septicemic infection in the intensive care unit. Both absolute values and variations should be considered and evaluated in further studies.
PMCID: PMC3336904  PMID: 22540083
Procalcitonin; neonates; septicemia; bacteremia; calcitonin
2.  Significance of serum procalcitonin in sepsis 
Rapid treatment of sepsis is of crucial importance for survival of patients. Specific and rapid markers of bacterial infection have been sought for early diagnosis of sepsis. One such measurement, Procalcitonin (PCT), has recently become of interest as a possible marker of the systemic inflammatory response to infection.
This study was done to find out the common sources of sepsis and to evaluate the diagnostic value of PCT, its predictive value and its relation with Sepsis-related Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) scores and mortality in various stages of sepsis.
Settings and Design:
The prospective study was conducted at our tertiary care center from October 2006 to December 2008. A total of 100 patients were included in the study. The study sample included all patients aged above 18 years presenting consecutively to our center during the study period with acute sepsis. They were divided into three groups: sepsis, severe sepsis and septic shockbased on standardized criteria.
Materials and Methods:
PCT and various other relevant factors were measured in all study subjects. These parameters were compared among the three study groups. The statistical analyses were done using Student “t” test and two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA).
Respiratory tract infection was the most common source of sepsis. PCT proved to be an excellent indicator of sepsis with sensitivity of 94%. There was a significant association between serum PCT and SOFA scores (P < 0.05). Serum PCT levels did not predict mortality in the present study.
PCT is among the most promising sepsis markers, capable of complementing clinical signs and routine lab parameters suggestive of severe infection.
PMCID: PMC3097536  PMID: 21633539
Procalcitonin; sepsis; septic shock; severe sepsis; sepsis-related organ failure assessment score
3.  Procalcitonin as an adjunctive biomarker in sepsis 
Indian Journal of Anaesthesia  2011;55(3):266-270.
Sepsis can sometimes be difficult to substantiate, and its distinction from non-infectious conditions in critically ill patients is often a challenge. Serum procalcitonin (PCT) assay is one of the biomarkers of sepsis. The present study was aimed to assess the usefulness of PCT assay in critically ill patients with suspected sepsis. The study included 40 patients from the intensive care unit with suspected sepsis. Sepsis was confirmed clinically and/or by positive blood culture. Serum PCT was assayed semi-quantitatively by rapid immunochromatographic technique (within 2 hours of sample receipt). Among 40 critically ill patients, 21 had clinically confirmed sepsis. There were 12 patients with serum PCT ≥10 ng/ml (8, blood culture positive; 1, rickettsia; 2, post-antibiotic blood culture sterile; and 1, non-sepsis); 7 patients with PCT 2-10 ng/ml (4, blood culture positive; 1, falciparum malaria; 2, post-antibiotic blood culture sterile); 3 patients with PCT of 0.5 to 2 ng/ml (sepsis in 1 patient); and 18 patients with PCT < 0.5 ng/ml (sepsis in 2 patients). Patients with PCT ≥ 2 ng/ml had statistically significant correlation with the presence of sepsis (P<0.0001). The PCT assay revealed moderate sensitivity (86%) and high specificity (95%) at a cut-off ≥ 2 ng/ml. The PCT assay was found to be a useful biomarker of sepsis in this study. The assay could be performed and reported rapidly and provided valuable information before availability of culture results. This might assist in avoiding unwarranted antibiotic usage.
PMCID: PMC3141151  PMID: 21808399
Blood culture; immunochromatographic assay ; procalcitonin; sepsis
4.  Multinational, observational study of procalcitonin in ICU patients with pneumonia requiring mechanical ventilation: a multicenter observational study 
Critical Care  2011;15(2):R88.
The intent of this study was to determine whether serum procalcitonin (PCT) levels are associated with prognosis, measured as organ dysfunctions and 28-day mortality, in patients with severe pneumonia.
This was a multicenter, observational study of critically ill adult patients with pneumonia requiring mechanical ventilation conducted in 10 academic hospitals in Canada, the United States, and Central Europe. PCT was measured daily for 14 days using an immuno-luminometric assay.
We included 175 patients, 57 with community acquired pneumonia (CAP), 61 with ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP) and 57 with hospital acquired pneumonia (HAP). Initial PCT levels were higher in CAP than VAP patients (median (interquartile range: IQR); 2.4 (0.95 to 15.8) vs. 0.7 (0.3 to 2.15), ng/ml, P < 0.001) but not significantly different to HAP (2.2 (0.4 to 8.0) ng/ml). The 28-day ICU mortality rate for all patients was 18.3% with a median ICU length of stay of 16 days (range 1 to 142 days). PCT levels were higher in non-survivors than in survivors. Initial and maximum PCT levels correlated with maximum Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score r2 = 0.50 (95% CI: 0.38 to 0.61) and r2 = 0.57 (0.46 to 0.66), respectively. Receiver operating curve (ROC) analysis on discrimination of 28-day mortality showed areas under the curve (AUC) of 0.74, 0.70, and 0.69 for maximum PCT, initial PCT, and Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II score, respectively. The optimal cut-off to predict mortality for initial PCT was 1.1 ng/ml (odds ratio: OD 7.0 (95% CI 2.6 to 25.2)) and that for maximum PCT was 7.8 ng/ml (odds ratio 5.7 (95% CI 2.5 to 13.1)).
PCT is associated with the severity of illness in patients with severe pneumonia and appears to be a prognostic marker of morbidity and mortality comparable to the APACHE II score.
PMCID: PMC3219347  PMID: 21385367
5.  Serum procalcitonin for the early recognition of nosocomial infection in the critically ill patients: a preliminary report 
The usefulness of procalcitonin (PCT) measurement in critically ill medical patients with suspected nosocomial infection is unclear. The aim of the study was to assess PCT value for the early diagnosis of bacterial nosocomial infection in selected critically ill patients.
An observational cohort study in a 15-bed intensive care unit was performed. Seventy patients with either proven (n = 47) or clinically suspected but not confirmed (n = 23) nosocomial infection were included. Procalcitonin measurements were obtained the day when the infection was suspected (D0) and at least one time within the 3 previous days (D-3 to D0). Patients with proven infection were compared to those without. The diagnostic value of PCT on D0 was determined through the construction of the corresponding receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. In addition, the predictive value of PCT variations preceding the clinical suspicion of infection was assessed.
PCT on D0 was the best predictor of proven infection in this population of ICU patients with a clinical suspicion of infection (AUROCC = 0.80; 95% CI, 0.68–0.91). Thus, a cut-off value of 0.44 ng/mL provides sensitivity and specificity of 65.2% and 83.0%, respectively. Procalcitonin variation between D-1 and D0 was calculated in 45 patients and was also found to be predictive of nosocomial infection (AUROCC = 0.89; 95% CI, 0.79–0.98) with a 100% positive predictive value if the +0.26 ng/mL threshold value was applied. Comparable results were obtained when PCT variation between D-2 and D0, or D-3 and D0 were considered. In contrast, CRP elevation, leukocyte count and fever had a poor predictive value in our population.
PCT monitoring could be helpful in the early diagnosis of nosocomial infection in the ICU. Both absolute values and variations should be considered and evaluated in further studies.
PMCID: PMC2679028  PMID: 19386110
6.  suPAR as a prognostic biomarker in sepsis 
BMC Medicine  2012;10:2.
Sepsis is the clinical syndrome derived from the host response to an infection and severe sepsis is the leading cause of death in critically ill patients. Several biomarkers have been tested for use in diagnosis and prognostication in patients with sepsis. Soluble urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) levels are increased in various infectious diseases, in the blood and also in other tissues. However, the diagnostic value of suPAR in sepsis has not been well defined, especially compared to other more established biomarkers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin (PCT). On the other hand, suPAR levels have been shown to predict outcome in various kinds of bacteremia and recent data suggest they may have predictive value, similar to that of severity scores, in critically ill patients. This narrative review provides a descriptive overview of the clinical value of this biomarker in the diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic guidance of sepsis.
PMCID: PMC3275545  PMID: 22221662
infection; sepsis; biomarker; disease severity; case fatality; outcome; soluble urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor; suPAR
7.  Procalcitonin and C-reactive protein during systemic inflammatory response syndrome, sepsis and organ dysfunction 
Critical Care  2004;8(4):R234-R242.
Both C-reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin (PCT) are accepted sepsis markers. However, there is still some debate concerning the correlation between their serum concentrations and sepsis severity. We hypothesised that PCT and CRP concentrations are different in patients with infection or with no infection at a similar severity of organ dysfunction or of systemic inflammatory response.
Patients and methods
One hundred and fifty adult intensive care unit patients were observed consecutively over a period of 10 days. PCT, CRP and infection parameters were compared among the following groups: no systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) (n = 15), SIRS (n = 15), sepsis/SS (n = 71) (including sepsis, severe sepsis and septic shock [n = 34, n = 22 and n = 15]), and trauma patients (n = 49, no infection).
PCT and CRP concentrations were higher in patients in whom infection was diagnosed at comparable levels of organ dysfunction (infected patients, regression of median [ng/ml] PCT = -0.848 + 1.526 sequential organ failure assessment [SOFA] score, median [mg/l] CRP = 105.58 + 0.72 SOFA score; non-infected patients, PCT = 0.27 + 0.02 SOFA score, P < 0.0001; CRP = 84.53 - 0.19 SOFA score, P < 0.005), although correlation with the SOFA score was weak (R = 0.254, P < 0.001 for PCT, and R = 0.292, P < 0.001 for CRP). CRP levels were near their maximum already during lower SOFA scores, whereas maximum PCT concentrations were found at higher score levels (SOFA score > 12).
PCT and CRP concentrations were 1.58 ng/ml and 150 mg/l in patients with sepsis, 0.38 ng/ml and 51 mg/l in the SIRS patients (P < 0.05, Mann–Whitney U-test), and 0.14 ng/ml and 72 mg/l in the patients with no SIRS (P < 0.05). The kinetics of both parameters were also different, and PCT concentrations reacted more quickly than CRP.
PCT and CRP levels are related to the severity of organ dysfunction, but concentrations are still higher during infection. Different sensitivities and kinetics indicate a different clinical use for both parameters.
PMCID: PMC522844  PMID: 15312223
calcitonin; C-reactive protein; infection; procalcitonin; sepsis; sequential organ failure assessment score; systemic inflammatory response syndrome
8.  Impact of previous sepsis on the accuracy of procalcitonin for the early diagnosis of blood stream infection in critically ill patients 
Blood stream infections (BSI) are life-threatening infections in intensive care units (ICU), and prognosis is highly dependent on early detection. Procalcitonin levels have been shown to accurately and quickly distinguish between BSI and noninfectious inflammatory states in critically ill patients. It is, however, unknown to what extent a recent history of sepsis (namely, secondary sepsis) can affect diagnosis of BSI using PCT.
review of the medical records of every patient with BSI in whom PCT dosage at the onset of sepsis was available between 1st September, 2006 and 31st July, 2007.
179 episodes of either primary (n = 117) or secondary (n = 62) sepsis were included. Procalcitonin levels were found to be markedly lower in patients with secondary sepsis than in those without (6.4 [9.5] vs. 55.6 [99.0] ng/mL, respectively; p < 0.001), whereas the SOFA score was similar in the two groups. Although patients in the former group were more likely to have received steroids and effective antibiotic therapy prior to the BSI episode, and despite a higher proportion of candidemia in this group, a low PCT value was found to be independently associated with secondary sepsis (Odd Ratio = 0.33, 95% Confidence Interval: 0.16–0.70; p = 0.004). Additional patients with suspected but unconfirmed sepsis were used as controls (n = 23). Thus, diagnostic accuracy of PCT as assessed by the area under the receiver-operating characteristic curves (AUROCC) measurement was decreased in the patients with secondary sepsis compared to those without (AUROCC = 0.805, 95% CI: 0.699–0.879, vs. 0.934, 95% CI: 0.881–0.970, respectively; p < 0.050).
In a critically ill patient with BSI, PCT elevation and diagnosis accuracy could be lower if sepsis is secondary than in those with a first episode of infection.
PMCID: PMC2614426  PMID: 19055740
9.  Interleukin-27 is a novel candidate diagnostic biomarker for bacterial infection in critically ill children 
Critical Care  2012;16(5):R213.
Differentiating between sterile inflammation and bacterial infection in critically ill patients with fever and other signs of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) remains a clinical challenge. The objective of our study was to mine an existing genome-wide expression database for the discovery of candidate diagnostic biomarkers to predict the presence of bacterial infection in critically ill children.
Genome-wide expression data were compared between patients with SIRS having negative bacterial cultures (n = 21) and patients with sepsis having positive bacterial cultures (n = 60). Differentially expressed genes were subjected to a leave-one-out cross-validation (LOOCV) procedure to predict SIRS or sepsis classes. Serum concentrations of interleukin-27 (IL-27) and procalcitonin (PCT) were compared between 101 patients with SIRS and 130 patients with sepsis. All data represent the first 24 hours of meeting criteria for either SIRS or sepsis.
Two hundred twenty one gene probes were differentially regulated between patients with SIRS and patients with sepsis. The LOOCV procedure correctly predicted 86% of the SIRS and sepsis classes, and Epstein-Barr virus-induced gene 3 (EBI3) had the highest predictive strength. Computer-assisted image analyses of gene-expression mosaics were able to predict infection with a specificity of 90% and a positive predictive value of 94%. Because EBI3 is a subunit of the heterodimeric cytokine, IL-27, we tested the ability of serum IL-27 protein concentrations to predict infection. At a cut-point value of ≥5 ng/ml, serum IL-27 protein concentrations predicted infection with a specificity and a positive predictive value of >90%, and the overall performance of IL-27 was generally better than that of PCT. A decision tree combining IL-27 and PCT improved overall predictive capacity compared with that of either biomarker alone.
Genome-wide expression analysis has provided the foundation for the identification of IL-27 as a novel candidate diagnostic biomarker for predicting bacterial infection in critically ill children. Additional studies will be required to test further the diagnostic performance of IL-27.
The microarray data reported in this article have been deposited in the Gene Expression Omnibus under accession number GSE4607.
PMCID: PMC3682317  PMID: 23107287
10.  Procalcitonin as a marker of sepsis and outcome in patients with neurotrauma: an observation study 
BMC Anesthesiology  2013;13:48.
Procalcitonin (PCT) is a reliable biomarker of sepsis and infection. The level of PCT associated with sepsis and infection in patients with traumatic brain injury is currently unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate the value of PCT and C-reactive protein (CRP) as diagnostic markers of sepsis and to evaluate the prognostic value of these markers related to the severity of injury, sepsis and mortality.
105 adult patients with neurotrauma were enrolled in this study from June 2011 to February 2013. PCT and CRP were measured at admission and 2, 3, 5 and 7 days after admission. The sepsis criteria established by American College of Chest Physicians /Society of Critical Care Medicine Consensus Conference were used to identify patients. Injury Severity Score (ISS) and Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) were used to assess the severity of the injury. All these patients were monitored for 28 days.
At admission, the median level of PCT was consistent with the severity of brain injury as follows: mild 0.08 ng/ml (0.05 - 0.13), moderate 0.25 ng/ml (0.11 - 0.55) and severe 0.31 ng/ml (0.17 - 0.79), but the range of CRP levels varied greatly within the given severity of brain injury. Seventy-one (67.6%) patients developed sepsis. The initial levels of PCT at admission were statistically higher in patients with sepsis, compared with patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), but there were no differences in the initial concentration of CRP between sepsis and SIRS. After adjusting for these parameters, multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that PCT was an independent risk factor for septic complications (p < 0.05). The areas under the ROCs at admission for the prediction of mortality were 0.76 (p < 0.05) and 0.733 for PCT and CRP, respectively.
Increased levels of PCT during the course of the ICU stay could be an important indicator for the early diagnosis of sepsis after neurotrauma. In addition, high serum levels of PCT in patients with neurotrauma at admission indicate an increased risk of septic complications, and the daily measurement of PCT assists in guiding antibiotic therapy in neurotrauma patients.
PMCID: PMC3932500  PMID: 24330775
Procalcitonin; Systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS); Sepsis; Mortality; Traumatic brain injury
11.  Predictive value of procalcitonin decrease in patients with severe sepsis: a prospective observational study 
Critical Care  2010;14(6):R205.
This prospective study investigated the predictive value of procalcitonin (PCT) for survival in 242 adult patients with severe sepsis and septic shock treated in intensive care.
PCT was analyzed from blood samples of all patients at baseline, and 155 patients 72 hours later.
The median PCT serum concentration on day 0 was 5.0 ng/ml (interquartile range (IQR) 1.0 and 20.1 ng/ml) and 1.3 ng/ml (IQR 0.5 and 5.8 ng/ml) 72 hours later. Hospital mortality was 25.6% (62/242). Median PCT concentrations in patients with community-acquired infections were higher than with nosocomial infections (P = 0.001). Blood cultures were positive in 28.5% of patients (n = 69), and severe sepsis with positive blood cultures was associated with higher PCT levels than with negative cultures (P = < 0.001). Patients with septic shock had higher PCT concentrations than patients without (P = 0.02). PCT concentrations did not differ between hospital survivors and nonsurvivors (P = 0.64 and P = 0.99, respectively), but mortality was lower in patients whose PCT concentration decreased > 50% (by 72 hours) compared to those with a < 50% decrease (12.2% vs. 29.8%, P = 0.007).
PCT concentrations were higher in more severe forms of severe sepsis, but a substantial concentration decrease was more important for survival than absolute values.
PMCID: PMC3219988  PMID: 21078153
12.  A latent class approach for sepsis diagnosis supports use of procalcitonin in the emergency room for diagnosis of severe sepsis 
BMC Anesthesiology  2013;13:23.
Given the acknowledged problems in sepsis diagnosis, we use a novel way with the application of the latent class analysis (LCA) to determine the operative characteristics of C-reactive protein (CRP), D-dimer (DD) and Procalcitonin (PCT) as diagnostic tests for sepsis in patients admitted to hospital care with a presumptive infection.
Cross-sectional study to determine the diagnostic accuracy of three biological markers against the gold standard of clinical definition of sepsis provided by an expert committee, and also against the likelihood of sepsis according to LCA. Patients were recruited in the emergency room within 24 hours of hospitalization and were follow-up daily until discharge.
Among 765 patients, the expert committee classified 505 patients (66%) with sepsis, 112 (15%) with infection but without sepsis and 148 (19%) without infection. The best cut-offs points for CRP, DD, and PCT were 7.8 mg/dl, 1616 ng/ml and 0.3 ng/ml, respectively; but, neither sensitivity nor specificity reach 70% for any biomarker. The LCA analysis with the same three tests identified a “cluster” of 187 patients with several characteristics suggesting a more severe condition as well as better microbiological confirmation. Assuming this subset of patients as the new prevalence of sepsis, the ROC curve analysis identified new cut-off points for the tests and suggesting a better discriminatory ability for PCT with a value of 2 ng/ml.
Under a “classical” definition of sepsis three typical biomarkers (CRP, PCT and DD) are not capable enough to differentiate septic from non-septic patients in the ER. However, a higher level of PCT discriminates a selected group of patients with severe sepsis.
PMCID: PMC3850719  PMID: 24050481
Sensitivity; Specificity; Sepsis; Latent class; C-reactive protein; Procalcitonin; D-dimer
13.  Prospective Comparison of Eubacterial PCR and Measurement of Procalcitonin Levels with Blood Culture for Diagnosing Septicemia in Intensive Care Unit Patients▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;47(9):2964-2969.
Rapid identification of infection has a major impact on the clinical course, management, and outcome of critically ill intensive care unit (ICU) patients. We compared the results of PCR and procalcitonin with blood culture for ICU patients suspected of having septicemia. Ninety patients (60 patients meeting the criteria for sepsis and 30 patients not meeting the criteria for sepsis) were evaluated. Compared with blood culture as the gold standard, the sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values for PCR were 100%, 43.33%, 46.87%, and 100%, respectively, and for procalcitonin were 100%, 61.66%, 56.6%, and 100%, respectively. The average times required to produce a final result were as follows: PCR, 10 h; blood culture, 33 h; procalcitonin, 45 min. Both PCR and procalcitonin may be useful as rapid tests for detecting septicemia but compared with blood cultures lacked specificity.
PMCID: PMC2738124  PMID: 19641068
14.  The Use of Procalcitonin as a Marker of Sepsis in Children 
Objective: Sepsis is a life-threatening disease which is associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality. The critically ill patients often manifest a Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS) which is independent of an infection. The early diagnosis of different severities of sepsis is important for an early implementation of the specific therapies. Our objective was to evaluate the diagnostic and the prognostic values of blood Procalcitonin (PCT) in cases of bacterial septicaemia in children.
Methods: The total sample comprised of 150 subjects who were admitted to the ICU with septicaemia and 50 normal, healthy, age and sex matched children. The first sample was collected at the time of admission, before the start of the antibiotic therapy (T0). A second sample was collected at 24 hours (T24) and a final sample was collected at 96 hours (T96). A PCT value of > 0.5ng/ml was accepted as positive.
Results: 63% of the children who were diagnosed with a bacterial aetiology showed detectable blood PCT levels with higher concentrations, while in the children who were diagnosed with a viral aetiology, only 22.2 % had detectable PCT levels, but in lower concentrations. The mean percentage reduction in the PCT value among the bacterial infection subjects was 44.39 ± 41.82 as compared to that in the viral infection subjects (5.71 ± 26.68) and in the subjects where the aetiology was not established (5.71 ± 26.68).
Conclusion: The results which were obtained in our study con- firmed that the PCT levels were a better marker for the bacterial infections. The PCT measurements may be used as a guide to the antibiotic therapy in critically ill children with suspected sepsis.
PMCID: PMC3592298  PMID: 23543035
Procalcitonin; Sepsis; SIRS; Bacterial infection
15.  Procalcitonin Clearance for Early Prediction of Survival in Critically Ill Patients with Severe Sepsis 
Introduction. Serum procalcitonin (PCT) diagnosed sepsis in critically ill patients; however, its prediction for survival is not well established. We evaluated the prognostic value of dynamic changes of PCT in sepsis patients. Methods. A prospective observational study was conducted in adult ICU. Patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) were recruited. Daily PCT were measured for 3 days. 48 h PCT clearance (PCTc-48) was defined as percentage of baseline PCT minus 48 h PCT over baseline PCT. Results. 95 SIRS patients were enrolled (67 sepsis and 28 noninfectious SIRS). 40% patients in the sepsis group died in hospital. Day 1-PCT was associated with diagnosis of sepsis (AUC 0.65 (95% CI, 0.55 to 0.76)) but was not predictive of mortality. In sepsis patients, PCTc-48 was associated with prediction of survival (AUC 0.69 (95% CI, 0.53 to 0.84)). Patients with PCTc-48 > 30% were independently associated with survival (HR 2.90 (95% CI 1.22 to 6.90)). Conclusions. PCTc-48 is associated with prediction of survival in critically ill patients with sepsis. This could assist clinicians in risk stratification; however, the small sample size, and a single-centre study, may limit the generalisability of the finding. This would benefit from replication in future multicentre study.
PMCID: PMC3955692  PMID: 24719759
16.  Changes in Circulating Procalcitonin Versus C-Reactive Protein in Predicting Evolution of Infectious Disease in Febrile, Critically Ill Patients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65564.
Although absolute values for C-reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin (PCT) are well known to predict sepsis in the critically ill, it remains unclear how changes in CRP and PCT compare in predicting evolution of: infectious disease, invasiveness and severity (e.g. development of septic shock, organ failure and non-survival) in response to treatment. The current study attempts to clarify these aspects.
In 72 critically ill patients with new onset fever, CRP and PCT were measured on Day 0, 1, 2 and 7 after inclusion, and clinical courses were documented over a week with follow up to Day 28. Infection was microbiologically defined, while septic shock was defined as infection plus shock. The sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) score was assessed.
From peak at Day 0–2 to Day 7, CRP decreased when (bloodstream) infection and septic shock (Day 0–2) resolved and increased when complications such as a new (bloodstream) infection or septic shock (Day 3–7) supervened. PCT decreased when septic shock resolved and increased when a new bloodstream infection or septic shock supervened. Increased or unchanged SOFA scores were best predicted by PCT increases and Day 7 PCT, in turn, was predictive for 28-day outcome.
The data, obtained during ICU-acquired fever and infections, suggest that CRP may be favoured over PCT courses in judging response to antibiotic treatment. PCT, however, may better indicate the risk of complications, such as bloodstream infection, septic shock, organ failure and mortality, and therefore might help deciding on safe discontinuation of antibiotics. The analysis may thus help interpreting current literature and design future studies on guiding antibiotic therapy in the ICU.
PMCID: PMC3675153  PMID: 23762396
17.  Can procalcitonin measurement help the diagnosis of osteomyelitis and septic arthritis? A prospective trial 
Procalcitonin (PCT) is an accurate marker for differentiating bacterial infection from non-infective causes of inflammation or viral infection. However, there is only one study in children which tested procalcitonin as a diagnostic aid in skeletal infections. With this study we sought to evaluate the sensitivity, specificity and predictive values of procalcitonin for identifying bone and joint infection in children evaluated in the emergency department for non traumatic decreased active motion of a skeletal segment.
Patients aged 1 month to 14 years were prospectively included in the emergency department when suspected for osteomyelitis or septic arthritis. Procalcitonin levels, C reactiv protein, white blood cell count were measured and bacteriological samples were collected before initiation of antibiotic treatment. Patients were assigned to 3 groups according to the degree of suspected infection: group 1 confirmed infection, group 2 presumed infection and group 3 non infected patients.
Three hundred thirty nine patients were included (118 girls and 221 boys). Group 1 comprised 8 patients (2 had PCT levels > 0.5 ng/ml). Two had osteomyelitis and 6 septic arthritis. Forty children were incuded in group 2 (4 had PCT levels > 0.5 ng/ml). Eighteen had presumed osteomyelitis and 22 presumed septic arthritis. Group 3 comprised 291 children (9 PCT levels > 0.5 ng/ml) who recovered without antibiotic treatment. The specificity of the PCT as a marker of bacterial infection (comparing Group 1 and Group 3) was 96.9% [95% CI, 94.2-98.6], the sensitivity 25% [95% CI, 3.2-65.1], the positive predictive value (PPV) 18.2% [95% CI, 2.3-51.8] and the negative predictive value (NPV) 97.9% [95% CI, 95.5-99.2].
PCT is not a good screening test for identifying skeletal infection in children. Larger studies are needed to evaluate still more the place of PCT measurements in the diagnosis of osteomyelitis and septic arthritis.
PMCID: PMC2777174  PMID: 19889215
18.  Procalcitonin-guided algorithm to reduce length of antibiotic therapy in patients with severe sepsis and septic shock 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:158.
Procalcitonin (PCT)-protocols to guide antibiotic treatment in severe infections are known to be effective. But less is known about the long-term effects of such protocols on antibiotic consumption under real life conditions. This retrospective study analyses the effects on antibiotic use in patients with severe sepsis and septic shock after implementation of a PCT-protocol.
We conducted a retrospective ICU-database search for adult patients between 2005 and 2009 with sepsis and organ dysfunction who where treated accordingly to a PCT-guided algorithm as follows: Daily measurements of PCT (BRAHMS PCT LIA®; BRAHMS Aktiengesellschaft, Hennigsdorf, Germany). Antibiotic therapy was discontinued if 1) clinical signs and symptoms of infection improved and PCT decreased to ≤1 ng/ml, or 2) if the PCT value was >1 ng/ml, but had dropped to 25-35% of the initial value within three days. The primary outcome parameters were: antibiotic days on ICU, ICU re-infection rate, 28-day mortality rate, length of stay (LOS) in ICU, mean antibiotic costs (per patient) and ventilation hours. Data from 141 patients were included in our study. Primary outcome parameters were analysed using covariance analyses (ANCOVA) to control for effects by gender, age, SAPS II, APACHE II and effective cost weight.
From baseline data of 2005, duration of antibiotic therapy was reduced by an average of 1.0 day per year from 14.3 ±1.2 to 9.0 ±1.7 days in 2009 (p=0.02). ICU re-infection rate was decreased by yearly 35.1% (95% CI −53 to −8.5; p=0.014) just as ventilation hours by 42 hours per year (95% CI −72.6 to −11.4; p=0.008). ICU-LOS was reduced by 2.7 days per year (p<0.001). Trends towards an average yearly reduction of 28-day mortality by −22.4% (95% CI −44.3 to 8.1; p=0.133) and mean cost for antibiotic therapy/ patient by −14.3 Euro (95% CI −55.7 to 27.1) did not reach statistical significance.
In a real-life clinical setting, implementation of a PCT-protocol was associated with a reduced duration of antibiotic therapy in septic ICU patients without compromising clinical or economical outcomes.
German clinical trials register
PMCID: PMC3616901  PMID: 23547790
Procalcitonin; Sepsis; Economical outcomes; Intensive care
19.  Inflammatory parameters and prediction of prognosis in infective endocarditis 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:272.
Procalcitonin (PCT) is widely used in critically ill patients to diagnose clinically significant infection and sepsis. Aim of this study was to evaluate the prognostic value of PCT in comparison to white blood cell count (WBC) and C-reactive protein (CRP) for clinical outcome and its correlation with microbiological etiology in patients with infective endocarditis (IE).
A retrospective single-center analysis was performed from 2007 till 2009. All patients were diagnosed having IE according to Duke standard criteria. Before starting antibiotic therapy, WBC, CRP and PCT were measured and blood cultures were taken for microbiological diagnosis of the etiological pathogen. Patients were followed up during in-hospital stay for poor outcome, defined as death or serious complications due to IE.
During the study period 50 patients (57 ± 17 years, 72% male) fulfilling Duke criteria for IE were identified. In all patients PCT measurements before start of antibiotic therapy were available. In ROC analysis, a cut-off for PCT > 0.5 ng/mL was most accurate for the prediction of poor outcome with a sensitivity of 73% and specificity of 79%, a positive predictive value of 79% and a negative predictive value of 73%. Patients with a PCT > 0.5 ng/mL had an odds ratio of 12.8 (95% CI 2.5 – 66.2) for finding Staphylococcus aureus in blood cultures.
For the first time, this study shows that in IE, an initial value of PCT > 0.5 ng/mL is a useful predictor of poor outcome, i.e. death or serious infectious complications. PCT > 0.5 ng/mL should raise the suspicion of Staphylococcus aureus as the etiological pathogen, whereas PCT levels < 0.5 ng/mL make staphylococcal infection unlikely.
PMCID: PMC3688388  PMID: 23767848
20.  What procalcitonin brings to management of sepsis in the ICU 
Critical Care  2010;14(6):1007.
In inflammatory states, particularly in response to infectious stimuli, local procalcitonin (PCT) production rises, and because these tissues cannot further process PCT into calcitonin, serum levels increase. In the critical care setting, PCT should be considered a useful tool to help physicians in some specific, although frequent, situations. Serial measurements of PCT levels may indicate the effectiveness of medical decisions such as the appropriateness of antibiotic therapy, the detection of new infections, and the exclusion of a diagnosis of sepsis. PCT-guided algorithms may also help to decrease the duration of antimicrobial therapy. However, the role of PCT as a prognostic marker in critically ill patients is controversial. In a study by Karlsson and colleagues, PCT concentrations did not differ between hospital survivors and nonsurvivors, but the outcome was better in patients whose PCT concentrations decreased more than 50%. The study of PCT kinetics thus could offer an individual risk assessment in patients with severe sepsis.
PMCID: PMC3220031  PMID: 21138601
21.  Procalcitonin levels and bacterial aetiology among COPD patients admitted to the ICU with severe pneumonia: a prospective cohort study 
Serum procalcitonin (PCT) is considered useful in predicting the likeliness of developing bacterial infections in emergency setting. In this study, we describe PCT levels overtime and their relationship with bacterial infection in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) critically ill patients with pneumonia.
We conducted a prospective cohort study in an ICU of a University Hospital. All consecutive COPD patients admitted for pneumonia between September 2005 and September 2006 were included. Respiratory samples were tested for the presence of bacteria and viruses. Procalcitonin was sequentially assessed and patients classified according to the probability of the presence of a bacterial infection.
Thirty four patients were included. The PCT levels were assessed in 32/34 patients, median values were: 0.493 μg/L [IQR, 0.131 to 1.471] at the time of admission, 0.724 μg/L [IQR, 0.167 to 2.646] at six hours, and 0.557 μg/L [IQR, 0.123 to 3.4] at 24 hours. The highest PCT (PCTmax) levels were less than 0.1 μg/L in 3/32 (9%) patients and greater than 0.25 μg/L in 22/32 (69%) patients, suggesting low and high probability of bacterial infection, respectively. Fifteen bacteria and five viruses were detected in 15/34 (44%) patients. Bacteria were not detected in patients with PCTmax levels < 0.1 μg/L. In contrast, bacteria were detected in 4/7 (57%) patients estimated unlikely to have a bacterial infection by PCT levels (PCTmax > 0.1 and < 0.25 μg/L).
Based on these results we suggest that a PCT level cut off > 0.1 μg/L may be more appropriate than 0.25 μg/L (previously proposed for non severe lower respiratory tract infection) to predict the probability of a bacterial infection in severe COPD patients with pneumonia. Further studies testing procalcitonin-based antibiotic strategies are needed in COPD patients with severe pneumonia.
PMCID: PMC2754485  PMID: 19772586
22.  Usefulness of procalcitonin for diagnosis of sepsis in the intensive care unit 
Critical Care  2002;7(1):85-90.
The diagnosis of sepsis in critically ill patients is challenging because traditional markers of infection are often misleading. The present study was conducted to determine the procalcitonin level at early diagnosis (and differentiation) in patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and sepsis, in comparison with C-reactive protein, IL-2, IL-6, IL-8 and tumour necrosis factor-α.
Thirty-three intensive care unit patients were diagnosed with SIRS, sepsis or septic shock, in accordance with the American College of Chest Physicians/Society of Critical Care Medicine consensus criteria. Blood samples were taken at the first and second day of hospitalization, and on the day of discharge or on the day of death. For multiple group comparisons one-way analysis of variance was applied, with post hoc comparison. Sensitivity, specificity and predictive values of PCT and each cytokine studied were calculated.
PCT, IL-2 and IL-8 levels increased in parallel with the severity of the clinical condition of the patient. PCT exhibited a greatest sensitivity (85%) and specificity (91%) in differentiating patients with SIRS from those with sepsis. With respect to positive and negative predictive values, PCT markedly exceeded other variables.
In the present study PCT was found to be a more accurate diagnostic parameter for differentiating SIRS and sepsis, and therefore daily determinations of PCT may be helpful in the follow up of critically ill patients.
PMCID: PMC154110  PMID: 12617745
C-reactive protein; cytokine; diagnosis; procalcitonin; sepsis
23.  Sepsis in AIDS patients: clinical, etiological and inflammatory characteristics 
Intensive care mortality of HIV-positive patients has progressively decreased. However, critically ill HIV-positive patients with sepsis present a worse prognosis. To better understand this condition, we propose a study comparing clinical, etiological and inflammatory data, and the hospital course of HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients with severe sepsis or septic shock.
A prospective observational study enrolling patients with severe sepsis or septic shock associated or not with HIV infection, and admitted to intensive care unit (ICU). Clinical, microbiological and inflammatory parameters were assessed, including C-reactive protein (CRP), procalcitonin (PCT), interleukin-6, interleukin-10 and TNF-α. Outcome measures were in-hospital and six-month mortality.
The study included 58 patients with severe sepsis/septic shock admitted to ICU, 36 HIV-positive and 22 HIV-negative. All HIV-positive patients met the criteria for AIDS (CDC/2008). The main foci of infection in HIV-positive patients were pulmonary and abdominal (p=0.001). Fungi and mycobacteria were identified in 44.4% and 16.7% of HIV-positive patients, respectively. In contrast, the main etiologies for sepsis in HIV-negative patients were Gram-negative bacilli (36.4%) and Gram-positive cocci (36.4%) (p=0.001). CRP and PCT admission concentrations were lower in HIV-positive patients (130 vs. 168 mg/dL p=0.005, and 1.19 vs. 4.06 ng/mL p=0.04, respectively), with a progressive decrease in surviving patients. Initial IL-10 concentrations were higher in HIV-positive patients (4.4 pg/mL vs. 1.0 pg/mL, p=0.005), with moderate accuracy for predicting death (area under receiver-operating characteristic curve =0.74). In-hospital and six-month mortality were higher in HIV-positive patients (55.6 vs. 27.3% p=0.03, and 58.3 vs. 27.3% p=0.02, respectively).
The course of sepsis was more severe in HIV-positive patients, with distinct clinical, etiological and inflammatory characteristics.
PMCID: PMC3564973  PMID: 23374857
sepsis; HIV; AIDS; etiology; inflammatory markers; mortality
24.  A Prospective Bicenter Study Investigating the Diagnostic Value of Procalcitonin in Patients with Acute Appendicitis 
Procalcitonin (PCT) is an established laboratory marker for disease severity in patients with infection and sepsis. In addition, PCT has been shown to be an effective marker for a limited number of localized infections. However, whether or not PCT has any diagnostic value for acute appendicitis, still remains unclear. The purpose of this prospective bicenter study was, therefore, to determine whether or not the PCT levels in the serum of patients with acute appendicitis have any diagnostic value.
This prospective study included 103 patients who received an appendectomy, based on the clinical diagnosis of acute appendicitis, in a surgical department of an academic teaching hospital in Germany or in a county hospital in Spain. White blood cell count (WBC), C-reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin (PCT) values were determined preoperatively. All appendectomy specimens were sent for routine histopathological evaluation. Based on this information, the patients were assigned to 1 of 5 groups that reflected the severity of the appendicitis.
Of the 103 patients who were included in the study, 98 had appendicitis. Fourteen (14.3%) showed an increase in PCT values. Of those 14, 4 had a serum PCT >0.5 ng/ml, 9 had a PCT value >2–10 ng/ml and 1 had a PCT value >10 ng/ml. The sensitivity of PCT was calculated to be 0.14. The mean WBC value was 13.0/nl (± 5.2, 3.4–31), and for CRP it was 8.8 mg/dl (± 13, 0–60.2). The values of CRP, WBC and PCT increased with the severity of the appendicitis.
PCT is potentially increased in rare cases of severe inflammation and, in particular, after appendiceal perforation or gangrenous appendicitis. However, its remarkably low sensitivity prohibits its routine use for the diagnosis of appendicitis.
PMCID: PMC2790741  PMID: 19672084
Procalcitonin; Appendicitis; Diagnostic
25.  Procalcitonin, lipopolysaccharide-binding protein, interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein in community-acquired infections and sepsis: a prospective study 
Critical Care  2006;10(2):R53.
Clinicians are in need of better diagnostic markers in diagnosing infections and sepsis. We studied the ability of procalcitonin, lipopolysaccharide-binding protein, IL-6 and C-reactive protein to identify patients with infection and sepsis.
Plasma and serum samples were obtained on admission from patients with suspected community-acquired infections and sepsis. Procalcitonin was measured with a time-resolved amplified cryptate emission technology assay. Lipopolysaccharide-binding protein and IL-6 were measured with a chemiluminescent immunometric assay.
Of 194 included patients, 106 had either infection without systemic inflammatory response syndrome or sepsis. Infected patients had significantly elevated levels of procalcitonin, lipopolysaccharide-binding protein, C-reactive protein and IL-6 compared with noninfected patients (P < 0.001). In a receiver-operating characteristic curve analysis, C-reactive protein and IL-6 performed best in distinguishing between noninfected and infected patients, with an area under the curve larger than 0.82 (P < 0.05). IL-6, lipopolysaccharide-binding protein and C-reactive protein performed best in distinguishing between systemic inflammatory response syndrome and sepsis, with an area under the curve larger than 0.84 (P < 0.01). Procalcitonin performed best in distinguishing between sepsis and severe sepsis, with an area under the curve of 0.74 (P < 0.01).
C-reactive protein, IL-6 and lipopolysaccharide-binding protein appear to be superior to procalcitonin as diagnostic markers for infection and sepsis in patients admitted to a Department of Internal Medicine. Procalcitonin appears to be superior as a severity marker.
PMCID: PMC1550885  PMID: 16569262

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