Sepsis pp 247-260 | Cite as

Clinical Diagnosis of Sepsis and the Combined Use of Biomarkers and Culture- and Non-Culture-Based Assays

  • Frank BloosEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1237)


Sepsis is among the most common causes of death in hospitalized patients, and early recognition followed by immediate initiation of therapy is an important concept to improve survival in these patients. According to the definition of sepsis, diagnosis of sepsis requires the recognition of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) caused by infection as well as recognition of possible infection-related organ dysfunctions for diagnosis of severe sepsis or septic shock. Both SIRS and organ dysfunctions may occur frequently in hospitalized patients for various reasons. However, the fast recognition of acute infection as a cause of SIRS and newly developed organ dysfunction may be a demanding task since culture-based results of microbiological samples will be available only days after onset of symptoms. Biomarkers and PCR-based pathogen detection may help the physician in differentiating SIRS from sepsis. Procalcitonin (PCT) is the best investigated biomarker for this purpose. Furthermore, the current data support the usage of PCT for guidance of antimicrobial therapy. C-reactive protein (CRP) may be used to monitor the course of infection but has only limited discriminative capabilities. Interleukin-6 is widely used for its fast response to the infectious stimulus, but conclusive data for the application of this biomarker are missing. None of the available biomarkers can by itself reliably differentiate SIRS from sepsis but can aid and shorten the decision process. PCR-based pathogen detection can theoretically shorten the recognition of the underlying pathogen to about 8 h. However, this technique is expensive and requires additional staff in the laboratory; controlled prospective studies are missing. Although current studies suggest that PCR-based pathogen detection may be useful to shorten time to adequate antimicrobial therapy and diagnose invasive Candida infections, no general recommendations about the application of PCR for the diagnosis of sepsis can be given.

Key words

Sepsis Diagnosis Biomarker Cytokines Procalcitonin PCR 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care MedicineUniversity Hospital of JenaJenaGermany

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