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1.  Ethanol Causes Protein Precipitation—New Safety Issues for Catheter Locking Techniques 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84869.
The ethanol lock technique has shown great potential to eradicate organisms in biofilms and to treat or prevent central venous catheter related infections. Following instillation of ethanol lock solution, however, the inherent density gradient between blood and ethanol causes gravity induced seepage of ethanol out of the catheter and blood influx into the catheter. Plasma proteins so are exposed to highly concentrated ethanol, which is a classic agent for protein precipitation. We aimed to investigate the precipitating effect of ethanol locks on plasma proteins as a possible cause for reported catheter occlusions.
Plasma samples were exposed in-vitro to ethanol (concentrations ranging from 7 to 70 v/v%) and heparin lock solutions. In catheter studies designed to mimic different in-vivo situations, the catheter tip was placed in a plasma reservoir and the material contained within the catheter was analyzed after ethanol lock instillation. The samples underwent standardized investigation for protein precipitation.
Protein precipitation was observed in plasma samples containing ethanol solutions above a concentration of 28%, as well as in material retrieved from vertically positioned femoral catheters and jugular (subclavian) catheters simulating recumbent or head down tilt body positions. Precipitates could not be re-dissolved by dilution with plasma, urokinase or alteplase. Plasma samples containing heparin lock solutions showed no signs of precipitation.
Our in-vitro results demonstrate that ethanol locks may be associated with plasma protein precipitation in central venous catheters. This phenomenon could be related to occlusion of vascular access devices locked with ethanol, as has been reported. Concerns should be raised regarding possible complications upon injection or spontaneous gravity induced leakage of such irreversibly precipitated protein particles into the systemic circulation. We suggest limiting the maximum advisable concentration of ethanol to 28 v/v% in catheter lock solutions.
PMCID: PMC3877335  PMID: 24391979
2.  External Validation of the Derived Neutrophil to Lymphocyte Ratio as a Prognostic Marker on a Large Cohort of Pancreatic Cancer Patients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78225.
With growing evidence on the role of inflammation in cancer biology, the presence of a systemic inflammatory response has been postulated as having prognostic significance in a wide range of cancer types. The derived neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio (dNLR), which represents an easily determinable potential prognostic marker in daily practise and clinical trials, has never been externally validated in pancreatic cancer (PC) patients.
Data from 474 consecutive PC patients, treated between 2004 and 2012 at a single centre, were evaluated retrospectively. Cancer-specific survival (CSS) was assessed using the Kaplan-Meier method. To evaluate the prognostic relevance of dNLR, univariate and multivariate Cox regression models were applied.
We calculated by ROC analysis a cut-off value of 2.3 for the dNLR to be ideal to discriminate between patients’ survival in the whole cohort. Kaplan-Meier curve reveals a dNLR≥2.3 as a factor for decreased CSS in PC patients (p<0.001, log-rank test). An independent significant association between high dNLR≥2.3 and poor clinical outcome in multivariate analysis (HR = 1.24, CI95% = 1.01–1.51, p = 0.041) was identified.
In the present study we confirmed elevated pre-treatment dNLR as an independent prognostic factor for clinical outcome in PC patients. Our data encourage independent replication in other series and settings of this easily available parameter as well as stratified analysis according to tumor resectability.
PMCID: PMC3817201  PMID: 24223776
3.  Plasma Midregional Pro-Adrenomedullin Improves Prediction of Functional Outcome in Ischemic Stroke 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68768.
To evaluate if plasma levels of midregional pro-adrenomedullin (MR-proADM) improve prediction of functional outcome in ischemic stroke.
In 168 consecutive ischemic stroke patients, plasma levels of MR-proADM were measured within 24 hours from symptom onset. Functional outcome was assessed by the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) at 90 days following stroke. Logistic regression, receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve analysis, net reclassification improvement (NRI), and Kaplan-Meier survival analysis were applied.
Plasma MR-proADM levels were found significantly higher in patients with unfavourable (mRS 3–6) compared to favourable (mRS 0–2) outcomes. MR-proADM levels were entered into a predictive model including the patients' age, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), and the use of recanalization therapy. The area under the ROC curve did not increase significantly. However, category-free NRI of 0.577 (p<0.001) indicated a significant improvement in reclassification of patients. Furthermore, MR-proADM levels significantly improved reclassification of patients in the prediction of outcome by the Stroke Prognostication using Age and NIHSS-100 (SPAN-100; NRI = 0.175; p = 0.04). Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed a rising risk of death with increasing MR-proADM quintiles.
Plasma MR-proADM levels improve prediction of functional outcome in ischemic stroke when added to the patients' age, NIHSS on admission, and the use of recanalization therapy. Levels of MR-proADM in peripheral blood improve reclassification of patients when the SPAN-100 is used to predict the patients' functional outcome.
PMCID: PMC3718829  PMID: 23894342
4.  Plasma-Advanced Oxidation Protein Products Are Potent High-Density Lipoprotein Receptor Antagonists In Vivo 
Circulation research  2009;104(6):750-757.
Advanced oxidation protein products (AOPPs) are carried by oxidized plasma proteins, especially albumin and accumulate in subjects with renal disease and coronary artery disease. AOPPs represent an excellent novel marker of oxidative stress and their roles in the development of cardiovascular disease might be of great importance. Here, we show that in vitro–generated AOPP-albumin binds with high affinity to the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) receptor scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI). Already an equimolar concentration of AOPP-albumin to HDL blocked HDL association to SR-BI and effectively inhibited SR-BI–mediated cholesterol ester (CE) uptake. Interestingly, albumin extensively modified by advanced glycation end products (AGE-albumin), which is an established SR-BI ligand known to accumulate in renal disease, only weakly interfered with HDL binding to SR-BI. Furthermore, AOPP-albumin administration increased the plasma half-life of [3H]CE-HDL in control mice 1.6-fold (P=0.01) and 8-fold (P=0.0003) in mice infected with adenoviral vectors encoding human SR-BI. Moreover, albumin isolated from hemodialysis patients, but not albumin isolated from healthy controls, markedly inhibited SR-BI–mediated HDL-CE transfer in vitro dependent on the AOPP content of albumin. These results indicate that AOPP-albumin effectively blocks SR-BI in vitro and in vivo. Thus, depressed plasma clearance of HDL-cholesterol may contribute to the abnormal composition of HDL and the high cardiovascular risk observed in patients with chronic renal failure.
PMCID: PMC3375477  PMID: 19179658
AOPP; hemodialysis; myeloperoxidase; oxidative stress; HDL
5.  Short-term effects of high-dose oral vitamin D3 in critically ill vitamin D deficient patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study 
Critical Care  2011;15(2):R104.
Vitamin D deficiency is encountered frequently in critically ill patients and might be harmful. Current nutrition guidelines recommend very low vitamin D doses. The objective of this trial was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a single oral high-dose vitamin D3 supplementation in an intensive care setting over a one-week observation period.
This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study in a medical ICU at a tertiary care university center in Graz, Austria. Twenty-five patients (mean age 62 ± 16yrs) with vitamin D deficiency [25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) ≤20 ng/ml] and an expected stay in the ICU >48 hours were included and randomly received either 540,000 IU (corresponding to 13.5 mg) of cholecalciferol (VITD) dissolved in 45 ml herbal oil or matched placebo (PBO) orally or via feeding tube.
The mean serum 25(OH)D increase in the intervention group was 25 ng/ml (range 1-47 ng/ml). The highest 25(OH)D level reached was 64 ng/ml, while two patients showed a small (7 ng/ml) or no response (1 ng/ml). Hypercalcemia or hypercalciuria did not occur in any patient. From day 0 to day 7, total serum calcium levels increased by 0.10 (PBO) and 0.15 mmol/L (VITD; P < 0.05 for both), while ionized calcium levels increased by 0.11 (PBO) and 0.05 mmol/L (VITD; P < 0.05 for both). Parathyroid hormone levels decreased by 19 and 28 pg/ml (PBO and VITD, ns) over the seven days, while 1,25(OH)D showed a transient significant increase in the VITD group only.
This pilot study shows that a single oral ultra-high dose of cholecalciferol corrects vitamin D deficiency within 2 days in most patients without causing adverse effects like hypercalcemia or hypercalciuria. Further research is needed to confirm our results and establish whether vitamin D supplementation can affect the clinical outcome of vitamin D deficient critically ill patients.
EudraCT Number
German Clinical Trials Register (DRKS)
PMCID: PMC3219377  PMID: 21443793
6.  Alkaline phosphatase predicts relapse in chronic hepatitis C patients with end-of-treatment response 
AIM: To investigate relapse predictors in chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients with end-of-treatment response (ETR), after pegylated interferon-α (PegIFN-α) and ribavirin treatment.
METHODS: In a retrospective study we evaluated a spectrum of predictors of relapse after PegIFN-α and ribavirin treatment in 86 CHC patients with ETR. Viral loads were determined with real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Hepatitis C virus genotyping was performed by sequencing analysis. Patients with genotype 1 were treated for 48 wk with 180 μg PegIFN-α2a or 1.5 μg/kg PegIFN-α2b once weekly plus ribavirin at a dosage of 1000 mg/d for those under 75 kg or 1200 mg/d for those over 75 kg. Patients with genotypes 2 and 3 were treated for 24 wk with 180 μg PegIFN-α2a or 1.5 μg/kg PegIFN-α2b once weekly plus ribavirin at a dosage of 800 mg/d.
RESULTS: In all ETR patients, binary logistic regression analysis identified absence of complete early virological response (cEVR) (OR 27.07, 95% CI: 3.09-237.26, P < 0.005), serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) levels prior to therapy < 75 U/L (OR: 6.16, 95% CI: 2.1-18.03, P < 0.001) and body mass index > 26 kg/m2 (OR: 8.27, 95% CI: 2.22-30.84, P < 0.005) as independent predictors of relapse. When cEVR patients were analyzed exclusively, ALP prior to therapy < 75 U/L remained the only predictor of relapse.
CONCLUSION: Lower levels of ALP prior to, during and after therapy seem to be associated with a higher risk of relapse in CHC patients with ETR.
PMCID: PMC2874146  PMID: 20480527
Alkaline phosphatase; Chronic hepatitis C; Pegylated interferon; Predictor; Relapse

Results 1-6 (6)