Biomarkers of sepsis: clinically useful?

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Purpose of reviewThe purpose of this review is to indicate recent developments in biomarkers of sepsis and to evaluate their impact on clinical use. According to the ‘surviving sepsis campaign,’ diagnosis of sepsis and infection is urgent; early and specific treatment is most effective to reduce complications and to decrease mortality.Recent findingsA variety of biomarkers of sepsis is presently available. The diagnostic spectrum of the various markers, however, is different. Some primarily indicate severity of inflammation (e.g. interleukin-6), others respond to infection, but do not indicate the host response well (endotoxin, lipoprotein binding protein, triggering receptor on myeloid cells). There are new markers with limited clinical experience, for example triggering receptor on myeloid cells or mid-pro atrial natriuretic peptide (Seristra, Brahms AG, Hennigsdorf, Germany). Procalcitonin is a well-established biomarker of sepsis that fulfills several criteria of clinical needs: it responds both to infection and severity of inflammation and thus has an impact on therapy. Recent studies indicate that antibiotic treatment can also be guided by procalcitonin. Further indications, including diagnosis of invasive bacterial infections and diagnosis of sepsis in neonates and children have been reported recently.SummaryRecent data and cumulative analyses indicate that biomarkers of sepsis improve diagnosis of sepsis. However, only a few markers have impact on therapy and fulfill the clinical requirements. Procalcitonin is a well-established marker, indicating infection, sepsis, and progression to the more severe stages of the disease. Today, this biomarker should be in the diagnostic portfolio of an intensive care unit or emergency ward.

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