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Ann Intern Med. 1993 Oct 15;119(8):771-8.

Plasma cytokine and endotoxin levels correlate with survival in patients with the sepsis syndrome.

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1
Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether plasma tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and lipopolysaccharide are detectable in patients when they first present with the sepsis syndrome and to determine whether levels correlate with patient survival.

DESIGN:

Prospective study comparing patients with the sepsis syndrome, critically ill patients without sepsis, and normal healthy volunteers.

SETTING:

Tertiary care hospital affiliated with a medical school.

PATIENTS:

The study included 97 consecutive patients on a medical service who met the criteria for the sepsis syndrome; 20 critically ill patients without sepsis who were in the medical intensive care unit; and 20 healthy volunteers who served as comparison groups.

MEASUREMENTS:

Plasma tumor necrosis factor-alpha, IL-1 beta, interleukin-6, and endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide) levels were measured when a patient was first identified as having the sepsis syndrome. Survival was defined as being alive 30 days after the sepsis syndrome was diagnosed.

RESULTS:

Fifty-four percent of patients with the sepsis syndrome had detectable levels of TNF-alpha (median, 26 pg/mL; range, nondetectable to 1000 pg/mL); 37% had detectable levels of IL-1 (median, 20 pg/mL; range, nondetectable to 2850 pg/mL); 80% had detectable levels of IL-6 (median, 415 pg/mL; range, nondetectable to 2380 pg/mL); and 89% had detectable levels of lipopolysaccharide (median, 2.6; range, nondetectable to 12.5 endotoxin units [EU]/mL). In all cases levels were higher than those in critically ill patients without sepsis and normal healthy controls (P < 0.001 for all comparisons). Plasma levels of TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta, IL-6, and lipopolysaccharide were detectable in patients regardless of culture status. The IL-6 level was 69% (95% CI, 30% to 108%) higher in patients who died compared with those who survived. The scores for the individual levels of TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta, IL-6, and lipopolysaccharide were summed to arrive at a total lipopolysaccharide-cytokine score, and mortality increased with lipopolysaccharide-cytokine score (P < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS:

Patients with the sepsis syndrome have detectable levels of circulating TNF-alpha, IL-1, IL-6, and lipopolysaccharide independent of culture-documented infection. Lipopolysaccharide and cytokines may play a pathogenic role in sepsis, and the combination of several elevated factors may be important in determining patient survival.

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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