Distinctive inflammatory profile between acute focal bacterial nephritis and acute pyelonephritis in children

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Acute focal bacterial nephritis (AFBN) is a severe form of upper urinary tract infection (UTI) with neurological manifestations and focal renal mass lesions on computed tomography (CT). Prolonged antibiotic therapy may improve the renal outcome, but the early differential diagnosis of AFBN from acute pyelonephritis (APN) is challenging. We searched for effective biomarkers of AFBN based on the pathophysiology of upper UTIs.


Of 52 upper UTI cases treated at Yamaguchi University between 2009 and 2016, 38 pediatric patients with AFBN (n = 17) or APN (n = 21) who underwent ultrasonography and/or CT were enrolled. The clinical data and serum cytokine concentrations were analyzed to differentiate AFBN from APN.


AFBN patients tended to be older, and have a higher body temperature, longer febrile period, more frequent neurological symptoms, higher immature neutrophil count, lower lymphocyte count, higher procalcitonin and urine β2-microglobulin levels. AFBN patients showed higher serum levels of IFN-γ, IL-6, IL-10 and soluble TNF-receptor 1 (sTNFR1) (all p < 0.05). Although the cytokine levels were variably correlated among each other, multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that combination of IFN-γ and IL-6 levels were most relevant for distinguishing AFBN from APN. The discriminant power of the logistic equation was 0.86 in terms of the area under the curve by the ROC analysis.


Circulating 4 out of 7 cytokines in AFBN patients were at higher levels compared with those in APN patients. IFN-γ and IL-6 levels might most effectively distinguish AFBN from APN.

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