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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Apr 13;(4):CD004388. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004388.pub4.

Human recombinant activated protein C for severe sepsis.

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  • 1Universidad de Carabobo and Iberoamerican Cochrane Network, Valencia, Edo. Carabobo, Venezuela.

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Sepsis is a common and frequently fatal condition. Human recombinant activated protein C (APC) has been used to reduce the high rate of death by severe sepsis or septic shock. This is an update of a Cochrane review (originally published in 2007 and updated in 2008).


We assessed the clinical effectiveness and safety of APC for the treatment of patients with severe sepsis or septic shock.


For this updated review we searched CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library 2010, Issue 6); MEDLINE (1966 to June 2010); EMBASE (1980 to July 1, 2010); BIOSIS (1965 to July 1, 2010); CINAHL (1982 to 16 June 2010) and LILACS (1982 to 16 June 2010). There was no language restriction.


We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the effects of APC for severe sepsis in adults and children. We excluded studies on neonates. We considered all-cause mortality at day 28, at the end of study follow up, and hospital mortality as the primary outcomes.


We independently performed study selection, risk of bias assessment and data extraction. We estimated relative risks (RR) for dichotomous outcomes. We measured statistical heterogeneity using the I(2) statistic. We used a random-effects model.


We identified one new RCT in this update. We included a total of five RCTs involving 5101 participants. For 28-day mortality, APC did not reduce the risk of death in adult participants with severe sepsis (pooled RR 0.97, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.78 to 1.22; P = 0.82, I(2) = 68%). APC use was associated with an increased risk of bleeding (RR 1.47, 95% CI 1.09 to 2.00; P = 0.01, I(2) = 0%). In paediatric patients, APC did not reduce the risk of death (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.66 to 1.46; P = 0.93). Although the included trials had no major limitations most of them modified their original completion or recruitment protocols.


This updated review found no evidence suggesting that APC should be used for treating patients with severe sepsis or septic shock. Additionally, APC is associated with a higher risk of bleeding. Unless additional RCTs provide evidence of a treatment effect, policy-makers, clinicians and academics should not promote the use of APC.

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