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Shock. 2016 Sep;46(3):254-60. doi: 10.1097/SHK.0000000000000616.

Interleukin-6 Levels Act as a Diagnostic Marker for Infection and a Prognostic Marker in Patients with Organ Dysfunction in Intensive Care Units.

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Department of Emergency and Critical Care Medicine, Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba, Japan.



There are significant unmet requirements for rapid differential diagnosis of infection in patients admitted to intensive care units. Serum levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), procalcitonin (PCT), presepsin, and C-reactive protein (CRP) are measured in clinical practice; however, their clinical utility in patients with organ dysfunction has not been tested adequately. Thus, we investigated the diagnostic and prognostic value of IL-6, PCT, presepsin, and CRP in critically ill patients who had organ dysfunction with suspicion of infection.


In 100 consecutive critically ill patients with organ dysfunction and suspected infection, serum levels of IL-6, PCT, presepsin, and CRP were measured upon suspicion of infection and serially every other day up to 7 days (cohort 1). The primary outcome variable was the presence of infections. The diagnostic value of IL-6 was further tested in cohort 2 (n = 72, case-control matched). The secondary outcome variables were the sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) score, serum creatinine levels, and 28-day mortality.


Among the four biomarkers, serum IL-6 levels had the highest area under the curve (AUC) value of 0.824 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.735-0.913) for diagnosing infection in critically ill patients with organ dysfunction and suspected infection in cohort 1 (AUC [95% CI] for the other biomarkers: PCT, 0.813 [0.714-0.911]; CRP, 0.764 [0.645-0.883]; presepsin, 0.681 [0.513-0.849]). In cohort 2, the sensitivity and specificity of IL-6 for diagnosing infection were 0.861 and 0.806, respectively. The presepsin levels were significantly correlated with the SOFA score and serum creatinine levels upon suspicion of infection (r > 0.5), especially serum creatinine levels in the patients without infection (r = 0.789). Serum IL-6 levels were significant predictors of 28-day mortality. The AUC value of serum IL-6 levels for 28-day mortality increased over time; the serum IL-6 levels on Day 7 had the highest AUC value of 0.883 (95% CI, 0.788-0.978) for 28-day mortality.


Among serum IL-6, PCT, presepsin, and CRP levels, serum IL-6 levels had the highest diagnostic value for infection. They were also significant predictors of 28-day mortality. Hence, they may improve diagnosis of infection and prediction of 28-day mortality in critically ill patients with organ dysfunction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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