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Crit Care. 2014 May 23;18(3):R106. doi: 10.1186/cc13887.

Inflammation biomarkers and delirium in critically ill patients.



Delirium is a common occurrence in critically ill patients and is associated with an increase in morbidity and mortality. Septic patients with delirium may differ from a general critically ill population. The aim of this investigation was to study the relationship between systemic inflammation and the development of delirium in septic and non-septic critically ill patients.


We performed a prospective cohort study in a 20-bed mixed intensive care unit (ICU) including 78 (delirium = 31; non-delirium = 47) consecutive patients admitted for more than 24 hours. At enrollment, patients were allocated to septic or non-septic groups according to internationally agreed criteria. Delirium was diagnosed using the Confusion Assessment Method for the Intensive Care Unit (CAM-ICU) during the first 72 hours of ICU admission. Blood samples were collected within 12 hours of enrollment for determination of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, soluble TNF Receptor (STNFR)-1 and -2, interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-10 and adiponectin.


Out of all analyzed biomarkers, only STNFR1 (P = 0.003), STNFR2 (P = 0.005), adiponectin (P = 0.005) and IL-1β (P < 0.001) levels were higher in delirium patients. Adjusting for sepsis and sedation, these biomarkers were also independently associated with delirium occurrence. However, none of them were significant influenced by sepsis.


STNFR1, STNFR2, adiponectin and IL-1β were associated with delirium. Sepsis did not modify the relationship between the biomarkers and delirium occurrence.

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