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Procalcitonin and cytokine levels: Relationship to organ failure and mortality in pediatric septic shock

Hatherill, Mark, MRCP; Tibby, Shane M., MRCP; Turner, Charles, BSc; Ratnavel, Nandiran, MRCP; Murdoch, Ian A., FRCP

Pediatric Critical Care

Background Procalcitonin (PCT), a marker of bacterial sepsis, may also act as a mediator of the inflammatory response to infection, and thus influence outcome.

Objective To investigate the relationship between PCT, interleukin (IL)-10, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), organ failure, and mortality in pediatric septic shock.

Design Prospective observational study.

Setting A 16-bed pediatric intensive care unit of a university hospital.

Patients A total of 75 children with septic shock having a median age of 43.1 months (range, 0.1–192 months). Children who had received antibiotics for >24 hrs were excluded. A total of 37 patients (49%) had meningococcal disease, and 72 patients (96%) required mechanical ventilation.

Interventions The pediatric risk of mortality (PRISM) score, multiple organ system failure (MOSF) score, duration of ventilation, length of ICU stay, and outcome were recorded. PCT, IL-10, and TNF were measured at admission to the intensive care unit. Sequential PCT levels were available at 0 hrs and 24 hrs in 39 patients (52%).

Results Observed mortality was 21/75 (28%). Data are median (range). The admission PCT (p = .0002) and TNF levels (p = .0001) were higher in children with higher MOSF scores. In survivors and nonsurvivors, the admission PCT was 82 ng/mL vs. 273 ng/mL (p = .03), IL-10 was 62 pg/mL vs. 534 pg/mL (p = .03), and TNF was 76 pg/mL vs. 480 pg/mL (p = .001), respectively. Area under the mortality receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.73 for PCT, 0.67 for IL-10, and 0.76 for TNF, compared with 0.83 for the PRISM score.

Of 39 children, 16 (41%) with sequential PCT measurements showed no fall in PCT after 24 hrs treatment. These children had higher admission levels of IL-10 (p = .03), and TNF (p = .03) compared with children who demonstrated a subsequent fall in PCT. Although the former did not have a higher median PRISM (p = .28) or MOSF score (p = .19), observed mortality was 44% (7 of 16) compared with 9% (2 of 23) (p = .02).

Conclusion The admission PCT, like TNF and IL-10, is related to the severity of organ failure and mortality in children with septic shock. A fall in PCT after 24 hrs of treatment may have favorable prognostic significance.

From the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (Drs. Hatherill, Tibby, Ratnavel, Murdoch) and the Children Nationwide Kidney Research Laboratory (Mr. Turner), Guy’s Hospital, London, UK.

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