Severe ADAMTS13 deficiency occurs in 13% to 75% of thrombotic microangiopathies (TMA). In this context, the early identification of a severe, antibody-mediated, ADAMTS13 deficiency may allow to start targeted therapies such as B-lymphocytes-depleting monoclonal antibodies. To date, assays exploring ADAMTS13 activity require skill and are limited to only some specialized reference laboratories, given the very low incidence of the disease. To identify clinical features which may allow to predict rapidly an acquired ADAMTS13 deficiency, we performed a cross-sectional analysis of our national registry from 2000 to 2007. The clinical presentation of 160 patients with TMA and acquired ADAMTS13 deficiency was compared with that of 54 patients with detectable ADAMTS13 activity. ADAMTS13 deficiency was associated with more relapses during treatment and with a good renal prognosis. Patients with acquired ADAMTS13 deficiency had platelet count <30×109/L (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 9.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.4–24.2, P<.001), serum creatinine level ≤200 µmol/L (OR 23.4, 95% CI 8.8–62.5, P<.001), and detectable antinuclear antibodies (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.0–8.0, P<.05). When at least 1 criteria was met, patients with a severe acquired ADAMTS13 deficiency were identified with positive predictive value of 85%, negative predictive value of 93.3%, sensitivity of 98.8%, and specificity of 48.1%. Our criteria should be useful to identify rapidly newly diagnosed patients with an acquired ADAMTS13 deficiency to better tailor treatment for different pathophysiological groups.
Nutritional support is crucial to the management of patients receiving invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) and the most commonly prescribed treatment in intensive care units (ICUs). International guidelines consistently indicate that enteral nutrition (EN) should be preferred over parenteral nutrition (PN) whenever possible and started as early as possible. However, no adequately designed study has evaluated whether a specific nutritional modality is associated with decreased mortality. The primary goal of this trial is to assess the hypothesis that early first-line EN, as compared to early first-line PN, decreases day 28 all-cause mortality in patients receiving IMV and vasoactive drugs for shock.
The NUTRIREA-2 study is a multicenter, open-label, parallel-group, randomized controlled trial comparing early PN versus early EN in critically ill patients requiring IMV for an expected duration of at least 48 hours, combined with vasoactive drugs, for shock. Patients will be allocated at random to first-line PN for at least 72 hours or to first-line EN. In both groups, nutritional support will be started within 24 hours after IMV initiation. Calorie targets will be 20 to 25 kcal/kg/day during the first week, then 25 to 30 kcal/kg/day thereafter. Patients receiving PN may be switched to EN after at least 72 hours in the event of shock resolution (no vasoactive drugs for 24 consecutive hours and arterial lactic acid level below 2 mmol/L). On day 7, all patients receiving PN and having no contraindications to EN will be switched to EN. In both groups, supplemental PN may be added to EN after day 7 in patients with persistent intolerance to EN and inadequate calorie intake. We plan to recruit 2,854 patients at 44 participating ICUs.
The NUTRIREA-2 study is the first large randomized controlled trial designed to assess the hypothesis that early EN improves survival compared to early PN in ICU patients. Enrollment started on 22 March 2013 and is expected to end in November 2015.
NCT01802099 (registered 27 February 2013)
Critical illness; Enteral nutrition; Mechanical ventilation; Mortality; Nosocomial infection; Parenteral nutrition; Shock; Vasoactive drugs
Phase III clinical trials on severe sepsis and septic shock published during the past decade have failed to reveal the superiority of any therapeutic intervention on mortality compared with evolving standards of care, with the exception of the Early-Goal Directed Therapy reported in 2001. This viewpoint paper presents an analysis of these studies in order to understand what lessons can be learned and proposes perspectives for future study designs. A total of 102 studies were selected among clinical trials published in the field of severe sepsis and septic shock from 2001 to 2013, based on the assessment of a therapeutic intervention and mortality as an outcome. Studies were further selected according to randomized, controlled trial (RCT) quality criteria and analysed according to reported data. Most (n = 61) were excluded because they did not comply with RCT quality criteria or did not report inclusion criteria or patient severity (n = 22). The 19 remaining studies were categorized into three groups depending on whether the intervention assessed led to better, worse, or equivalent outcomes. It appears that the mortality rate in the control arm, ranging from 17% to 61%, impacted the results, with a benefit reported in the studies with the highest rates. Both heterogeneous studied populations and uncontrolled diversity of care among participating centres probably contributed to discrepancies between studies assessing the same intervention. The new challenge to enhance the probability of decreasing mortality rates should include a more appropriate definition of sepsis based on more specific criteria involving biomarker use and accurate patient phenotypes.
The overall outcome of septic shock has been recently improved. We sought to determine whether this survival gain extends to the high-risk subgroup of patients with cirrhosis.
Cirrhotic patients with septic shock admitted to a medical intensive care unit (ICU) during two consecutive periods (1997-2004 and 2005-2010) were retrospectively studied.
Forty-seven and 42 cirrhotic patients presented with septic shock in 1997-2004 and 2005-2010, respectively. The recent period differed from the previous one by implementation of adjuvant treatments of septic shock including albumin infusion as fluid volume therapy, low-dose glucocorticoids, and intensive insulin therapy. ICU and hospital survival markedly improved over time (40% in 2005-2010 vs. 17% in 1997-2004, P = 0.02 and 29% in 2005-2010 vs. 6% in 1997-2004, P = 0.009, respectively). Furthermore, this survival gain in the latter period was sustained for 6 months (survival rate 24% in 2005-2010 vs. 6% in 1997-2004, P = 0.06). After adjustment with age, the liver disease stage (Child-Pugh score), and the critical illness severity score (SOFA score), ICU admission between 2005 and 2010 remained an independent favorable prognostic factor (odds ratio (OR) 0.09, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.02-0.4, P = 0.004). The stage of the underlying liver disease was also independently associated with hospital mortality (Child-Pugh score: OR 1.42 per point, 95% CI 1.06-1.9, P = 0.018).
In the light of advances in management of both cirrhosis and septic shock, survival of such patients substantially increased over recent years. The stage of the underlying liver disease and the related therapeutic options should be included in the decision-making process for ICU admission.
Human serum albumin (HSA) has been used for a long time as a resuscitation fluid in critically ill patients. It is known to exert several important physiological and pharmacological functions. Among them, the antioxidant properties seem to be of paramount importance as they may be implied in the potential beneficial effects that have been observed in the critical care and hepatological settings. The specific antioxidant functions of the protein are closely related to its structure. Indeed, they are due to its multiple ligand-binding capacities and free radical-trapping properties. The HSA molecule can undergo various structural changes modifying its conformation and hence its binding properties and redox state. Such chemical modifications can occur during bioprocesses and storage conditions of the commercial HSA solutions, resulting in heterogeneous solutions for infusion. In this review, we explore the mechanisms that are responsible for the specific antioxidant properties of HSA in its native form, chemically modified forms, and commercial formulations. To conclude, we discuss the implication of this recent literature for future clinical trials using albumin as a drug and for elucidating the effects of HSA infusion in critically ill patients.
Human serum albumin; Antioxidant force; Oxidized albumin; Critically ill patients
Despite experimental evidence, clinical demonstration of acute state of oxidative stress and inflammation during post-cardiac arrest syndrome is lacking. Plasma level of thioredoxin (TRX), a redox-active protein induced under conditions of oxidative stress and inflammation, is increased in various critical care conditions. We determined plasma TRX concentrations after cardiac arrest and assessed relationships with severity and outcome.
Retrospective study of consecutive patients admitted to a single academic intensive care unit (ICU) for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (between July 2006 and March 2008). Plasma levels of TRX were measured at admission, day (D) 1, 2 and 3.
Of 176 patients included, median TRX values measured in ICU survivors and non-survivors were, respectively: 22 ng/mL (7.8 to 77) vs. 72.4 (21.9 to 117.9) at admission (P < 0.001); 5.9 (3.5 to 25.5) vs. 23.2 (5.8 to 81.4) at D1 (P = 0.003); 10.8 (3.6 to 50.8) vs. 11.7 (4.5 to 66.4) at D2 (P = 0.22); and 16.7 (5.3 to 68.3) vs. 17 (4.3 to 62.9) at D3 (P = 0.96). Patients dying within 24 hours had significantly (P < 0.001) higher TRX levels (118.6 ng/mL (94.8 to 280)) than those who died after 24 hours or survived (50.8 (13.9 to 95.7) and 22 (7.8 to 77)). The area under the ROC curve to predict early death was 0.84 (0.76 to 0.91).
TRX levels on admission were significantly correlated with 'low-flow' duration (P = 0.003), sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) score (P < 0.001), and blood lactate concentration (P < 0.001), but not with 'no-flow' duration or simplified acute physiology score (SAPS) II score. TRX levels and admission arterial pO2 correlated negatively (r = -0.17, P = 0.03). Finally, cardiac arrest with cardiac etiology exhibited lower levels of TRX than in cases of extra-cardiac cause (46 ng/mL (11 to 104) vs. 68 (42 to 137), P = 0.01).
Our data show for the first time that TRX levels were elevated early following cardiac arrest, suggestive of oxidative stress and inflammation occurring with this condition. Highest values were found in the most severe patients. TRX could be a useful tool for further exploration and comprehension of post-cardiac arrest syndrome.
Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) account for a high proportion of ICU admissions, with Streptococcus pneumoniae being the main pathogen responsible for these infections. However, little is known on the clinical features and outcomes of ICU patients with pneumococcal pneumonia. The aims of this study were to provide epidemiological data and to determine risk factors of mortality in patients admitted to ICU for severe S. pneumoniae CAP.
We performed a retrospective review of two prospectively-acquired multicentre ICU databases (2001-2008). Patients admitted for management of severe pneumococcal CAP were enrolled if they met the 2001 American Thoracic Society criteria for severe pneumonia, had life-threatening organ failure and had a positive microbiological sample for S. pneumoniae. Patients with bronchitis, aspiration pneumonia or with non-pulmonary pneumococcal infections were excluded.
Two hundred and twenty two patients were included, with a median SAPS II score reaching 47 [36-64]. Acute respiratory failure (n = 154) and septic shock (n = 54) were their most frequent causes of ICU admission. Septic shock occurred in 170 patients (77%) and mechanical ventilation was required in 186 patients (84%); renal replacement therapy was initiated in 70 patients (32%). Bacteraemia was diagnosed in 101 patients. The prevalence of S. pneumoniae strains with decreased susceptibility to penicillin was 39.7%. Although antibiotherapy was adequate in 92.3% of cases, hospital mortality reached 28.8%. In multivariate analysis, independent risk factors for mortality were age (OR 1.05 (95% CI: 1.02-1.08)), male sex (OR 2.83 (95% CI: 1.16-6.91)) and renal replacement therapy (OR 3.78 (95% CI: 1.71-8.36)). Co-morbidities, macrolide administration, concomitant bacteremia or penicillin susceptibility did not influence outcome.
In ICU, mortality of pneumococcal CAP remains high despite adequate antimicrobial treatment. Baseline demographic data and renal replacement therapy have a major impact on adverse outcome.
A genomic biomarker identifying patients likely to benefit from drotrecogin alfa (activated) (DAA) may be clinically useful as a companion diagnostic. This trial was designed to validate biomarkers (improved response polymorphisms (IRPs)). Each IRP (A and B) contains two single nucleotide polymorphisms that were associated with a differential DAA treatment effect.
DAA is typically given to younger patients with greater disease severity; therefore, a well-matched control group is critical to this multicenter, retrospective, controlled, outcome-blinded, genotype-blinded trial. Within each center, DAA-treated patients will be matched to controls treated within 24 months of each other taking into account age, APACHE II, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, and hematologic dysfunction, mechanical ventilation status, medical/surgical status, and infection site. A propensity score will estimate the probability that a patient would have received DAA given their baseline characteristics. Two-phase data transfer will ensure unbiased selection of matched controls. The first transfer will be for eligibility and matching data and the second transfer for outcomes and genotypic data. The primary analysis will compare the effect of DAA in IRP + and IRP − groups on in-hospital mortality through day 28.
A design-based approach matching DAA-free to DAA-treated patients in a multicenter study of patients who have severe sepsis and high risk of death will directly compare control to DAA-treated groups for mortality by genotype. Results, which should be available in 2012, may help to identify the group of patients who would benefit from DAA and may provide a model for future investigation of sepsis therapies.
Drotrecogin alfa (activated); Pharmacogenomics biomarker; Predictive marker; Propensity score; Severe sepsis; Treatment selection; Sepsis; Drotrecogin alfa activated (DAA); Activated protein C; Genome wide association study; Survival
NF-κB is a critical regulator of gene expression during severe infections. NF-κB comprises homo- and heterodimers of proteins from the Rel family. Among them, p50 and p65 have been clearly implicated in the pathophysiology of sepsis. In contrast, the role of cRel in sepsis is still controversial and has been poorly studied in single-pathogen infections. We aimed to investigate the consequences of cRel deficiency in a cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) model of sepsis. We have approached the underlying mechanisms of host defense by analyzing bacterial clearance, systemic inflammation, and the distribution of spleen dendritic cell subsets. Moreover, by using a genome-wide technology, we have also analyzed the CLP-induced modifications in gene expression profiles both in wild-type (wt) and in rel−/− mice. The absence of cRel enhances mortality due to polymicrobial sepsis. Despite normal pathogen clearance, cRel deficiency leads to an altered systemic inflammatory response associated with a sustained loss of the spleen lymphoid dendritic cells. Furthermore, a whole-blood microarray study reveals that the differential outcome between wt and rel−/− mice during sepsis is preceded by remarkable changes in the expression of hundreds of genes involved in aspects of host-pathogen interaction, such as host survival and lipid metabolism. In conclusion, cRel is a key NF-κB member required for host antimicrobial defenses and a regulatory transcription subunit that controls the inflammatory and immune responses in severe infection.
Candidemia raises numerous therapeutic issues for intensive care physicians. Epidemiological data that could guide the choice of initial therapy are still required. This analysis sought to compare the characteristics of intensive care unit (ICU) patients with candidemia due to non-albicans Candida species with those of ICU patients with candidemia due to Candida albicans.
A prospective, observational, multicenter, French study was conducted from October 2005 to May 2006. Patients exhibiting candidemia developed during ICU stay and exclusively due either to one or more non-albicans Candida species or to C. albicans were selected. The data collected included patient characteristics on ICU admission and at the onset of candidemia.
Among the 136 patients analyzed, 78 (57.4%) had candidemia caused by C. albicans. These patients had earlier onset of infection (11.1 ± 14.2 days after ICU admission vs. 17.4 ± 17.7, p = 0.02), higher severity scores on ICU admission (SOFA: 10.4 ± 4.7 vs. 8.6 ± 4.6, p = 0.03; SAPS II: 57.4 ± 22.8 vs. 48.7 ± 15.5, P = 0.015), and were less often neutropenic (2.6% vs. 12%, p = 0.04) than patients with candidemia due to non-albicans Candida species.
Although patients infected with Candida albicans differed from patients infected with non-albicans Candida species for a few characteristics, no clinical factor appeared pertinent enough to guide the choice of empirical antifungal therapy in ICU.
Patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in the hospital setting exhibit markedly abnormal levels of various biomarkers of infection, inflammation and coagulation. CAP is a well characterized disease, relatively homogeneous and amenable to management according to defined protocols. Hence, this group of patients represents an opportunity to investigate further these biomarkers as a means of determining disease severity and identifying candidates for new therapies. Changes in biomarker levels during the course of disease may enable physicians to identify those patients who are most at risk for deterioration and progression toward severe CAP and who are in greatest need of early intervention. Subgroup analysis of the placebo-controlled OPTIMIST trial of tifacogin in severe sepsis revealed a trend toward benefit in patients with procalcitonin levels of 2 ng/ml or greater and in those with high baseline markers of activated coagulation. Biomarker studies are being undertaken as part of the ongoing CAPTIVATE study. This study includes patients with severe CAP and will compare the efficacy and safety of recombinant tissue factor pathway inhibitor (tifacogin) versus placebo. In the future it may also be possible to use genomic markers to identify patients at greatest risk for deterioration or complications.
Lemierre's syndrome presents a classic clinical picture, the pathophysiology of which remains obscure. Attempts have been made to trace genetic predispositions that modify the host detection of pathogen or the resultant systemic reaction.
A 17-year old female, with no previous medical history, was admitted to the intensive care unit for septic shock, acute respiratory distress syndrome and Lemierre's syndrome. Her DNA was assayed for single nucleotide polymorphisms previously incriminated in the detection of the pathogen, the inflammatory response and the coagulation cascade. We observed functional variations in her Toll like 5 receptor (TLR 5) gene and two coagulation variations (Tissue Factor (TF) 603 and Plasminogen-Activator-Inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) 4G-4G homozygosity) associated with thrombotic events.
The innate immune response and the prothrombogenic mutations could explain, at least in part, the symptoms of Lemierre's syndrome. Genomic study of several patients with Lemierre's syndrome may reveal its pathophysiology.
Intensive care unit (ICU) admission of adults with cystic fibrosis (CF) is controversial because of poor outcome. This appraisal needs re-evaluation following recent changes in both CF management and ICU daily practice. Objectives were to determine long-term outcome of adults with CF admitted in ICU and to identify prognostic factors.
Retrospective multicenter study of 60 ICU hospitalizations for 42 adult CF patients admitted between 2000 and 2003. Reason for ICU admission, ventilatory support provided and one-year survival were recorded. Multiple logistic analysis was used to determine predictors of mortality.
Prior to ICU admission, all patients (mean age 28.1 ± 8 yr) had a severe lung disease (mean FEV1 28 ± 12% predicted; mean PaCO2 47 ± 9 mmHg). Main reason for ICU hospitalization was pulmonary infective exacerbation (40/60). At admission, noninvasive ventilation was used in 57% of cases and was successful in 67% of patients. Endotracheal intubation was implemented in 19 episodes. Overall ICU mortality rate was 14%. One year after ICU discharge, 10 of the 28 survivors have been lung transplanted. Among recognized markers of CF disease severity, only the annual FEV1 loss was associated with a poor outcome (HR = 1.47 [1.18–1.85], p = 0.001). SAPSII (HR = 1.08 [1.03–1.12], p < 0.001) and endotracheal intubation (HR = 16.60 [4.35–63.34], p < 0.001) were identified as strong independent predictors of mortality.
Despite advanced lung disease, adult patients with CF admitted in ICU have high survival rate. Endotracheal intubation is associated with a poor prognosis and should be used as the last alternative. Although efforts have to be made in selecting patients with CF likely to benefit from ICU resources, ICU admission of these patients should be considered.
infection; organ dysfunction; PIRO; predisposition; response
We report an exceptional case of life-threatening Escherichia coli-induced necrotizing fasciitis. A combined host-pathogen genetic analysis explained the phenotype: the host displayed a susceptibility to intravascular coagulation, and the strain was capable of producing a necrotic toxin (cytotoxic necrotizing factor 1), showing how E. coli can be a dermonecrotic pathogen.
Large studies on severe imported malaria in non-endemic industrialized countries are lacking. We sought to describe the clinical spectrum of severe imported malaria in French adults and to identify risk factors for mortality at admission to the intensive care unit.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Retrospective review of severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria episodes according to the 2000 World Health Organization definition and requiring admission to the intensive care unit. Data were collected from medical charts using standardised case-report forms, in 45 French intensive care units in 2000–2006. Risk factors for in-hospital mortality were identified by univariate and multivariate analyses.
Data from 400 adults admitted to the intensive care unit were analysed, representing the largest series of severe imported malaria to date. Median age was 45 years; 60% of patients were white, 96% acquired the disease in sub-Saharan Africa, and 65% had not taken antimalarial chemoprophylaxis. Curative quinine treatment was used in 97% of patients. Intensive care unit mortality was 10.5% (42 deaths). By multivariate analysis, three variables at intensive care unit admission were independently associated with hospital death: older age (per 10-year increment, odds ratio [OR], 1.72; 95% confidence interval [95%CI], 1.28–2.32; P = 0.0004), Glasgow Coma Scale score (per 1-point decrease, OR, 1.32; 95%CI, 1.20–1.45; P<0.0001), and higher parasitemia (per 5% increment, OR, 1.41; 95%CI, 1.22–1.62; P<0.0001).
Conclusions and Significance
In a large population of adults treated in a non-endemic industrialized country, severe malaria still carried a high mortality rate. Our data, including predictors of death, can probably be generalized to other non-endemic countries where high-quality healthcare is available.
Depletion of dendritic cells (DC) in secondary lymphoid organs is a hallmark of sepsis-induced immune dysfunction. In this setting, we investigated if Toll-like receptor (TLR)-dependent signaling might modulate the maturation process and the survival of DC. Using a model of sublethal polymicrobial sepsis induced by cecal ligation and puncture, we investigated the quantitative and functional features of spleen DC in wild-type, TLR2−/−, TLR4−/−, and TLR2−/− TLR4−/− mice. By 24 h, a decrease in the relative percentage of CD11chigh spleen DC occurred in wild-type mice but was prevented in TLR2−/−, TLR4−/−, and TLR2−/− TLR4−/− mice. In wild-type mice, sepsis dramatically affected both CD11c+ CD8α+ and CD11c+ CD8α− subsets. In all three types of knockout mice studied, the CD11c+ CD8α+ subset followed a depletion pattern similar to that for wild-type mice. In contrast, the loss of CD11c+ CD8α− cells was attenuated in TLR2−/− and TLR4−/− mice and completely prevented in TLR2−/− TLR4−/− mice. Accordingly, apoptosis of spleen DC was increased in septic wild-type mice and inhibited in knockout mice. In addition we characterized the functional features of spleen DC obtained from septic mice. As shown by increased expression of major histocompatibility complex class II and CD86, polymicrobial sepsis induced maturation of DC, with subsequent increased capacity to prime T lymphocytes, similarly in wild-type and knockout mice. In response to CpG DNA stimulation, production of interleukin-12 was equally impaired in DC obtained from wild-type and knockout septic mice. In conclusion, although dispensable for the DC maturation process, TLR2 and TLR4 are involved in the mechanisms leading to depletion of spleen DC following polymicrobial sepsis.
Malaria; parasites; Plasmodium malariae; septic shock; ARDS; genetic polymorphism; letter
Factors predictive of the need for red blood cell (RBC) transfusion in the intensive care unit (ICU) have been identified, but risk factors for transfusion after ICU discharge are unknown. This study aims identifies risk factors for RBC transfusion after discharge from the ICU.
A prospective, monocentric observational study was conducted over a 6-month period in a 24-bed medical ICU in a French university hospital. Between June and December 2003, 550 critically ill patients were consecutively enrolled in the study.
A total of 428 patients survived after treatment in the ICU; 47 (11% of the survivors, 8.5% of the whole population) required RBC transfusion within 7 days after ICU discharge. Admission for sepsis (odds ratio [OR] 341.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] 20.35–5734.51), presence of an underlying malignancy (OR 32.6, 95%CI 3.8–280.1), female sex (OR 5.4, 95% CI 1.2–24.9), Logistic Organ Dysfunction score at ICU discharge (OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.1–1.9) and age (OR 1.06, 95% CI 1.02–1.12) were independently associated with RBC transfusion after ICU stay. Haemoglobin level at discharge predicted the need for delayed RBC transfusion. Use of vasopressors (OR 0.01, 95%CI 0.001–0.17) and haemoglobin level at discharge from the ICU (OR 0.02, 95% CI 0.007–0.09; P < 0.001) were strong independent predictors of transfusion of RBC 1 week after ICU discharge.
Sepsis, underlying conditions, unresolved organ failures and haemoglobin level at discharge were related to an increased risk for RBC transfusion after ICU stay. We suggest that strategies to prevent transfusion should focus on homogeneous subgroups of patients and take into account post-ICU needs for RBC transfusion.
Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) are effective antiretroviral therapy for the treatment of HIV-infected patients. NRTIs can induce mitochondrial impairment that leads to a number of adverse events, including symptomatic lactic acidosis. In the present review, we describe the underlying mechanism of NRTI-induced toxicity and the main clinical features of this infrequent, but severe, emerging complication. We also summarise experimental data and clinical observations that support the use of L-carnitine supplementation to reverse NRTI-induced mitochondrial impairment.
antiretroviral drug; critically ill patients; HIV; lactic acidosis; mitochondria
Since most common diseases have been shown to be influenced by inherited variations in our genes, completion of the Human Genome Project and mapping of the human genome single-nucleotide polymorphisms will have a tremendous impact on our approach to medicine. New developments in genotyping techniques and bioinformatics, enabling detection of single-nucleotide polymorphisms, already provide physicians and scientists with tools that change our understanding of human biology. In the near future, studies will relate genetic polymorphisms to features of critical illnesses, increased susceptibility to common diseases, and altered response to therapy. Novel insights into the contribution of genetic factors to critical illnesses and advances in pharmacogenomics will be used to select the most effective therapeutic agent and the optimal dosage required to elicit the expected drug response for a given individual. Implementation of genetic criteria for patient selection and individual assessment of the risks and benefits of treatment emerges as a major challenge to the pharmaceutical industry.
genetics; pharmacogenomics; polymorphism
The toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) has gained importance as a major mammalian receptor for lipoproteins derived from the cell wall of a variety of bacteria, such as Borrelia burgdorferi, Treponema pallidum, and Mycoplasma fermentans. We were interested in identifying mutations in the TLR2 gene that might prove to be associated with altered susceptibility to septic shock. We performed a mutation screen of the TLR2 gene using single-stranded conformational polymorphism in 110 normal, healthy study subjects and detected an Arg753Gln mutation in three individuals. No other missense mutations were detected in the TLR2 open reading frame. Functional studies demonstrate that the Arg753Gln polymorphism, in comparison to the wild-type TLR2 gene, is significantly less responsive to bacterial peptides derived from B. burgdorferi and T. pallidum. In a septic shock population, the Arg753Gln TLR2 polymorphism occurred in 2 out of 91 septic patients. More importantly, both of the subjects with the TLR2 Arg753Gln polymorphism had staphylococcal infections. These findings suggest that a mutation in the TLR2 gene may predispose individuals to life-threatening bacterial infections.