The study aim was to determine the benefit of the measurement of serum caspase-cleaved cytokeratin-18 (CK-18) fragment as a prognostic marker of febrile neutropenia (FN) in hematological patients. The study population consisted of 86 consecutive patients with FN who received intensive chemotherapy for hematological malignancy at the adult hematology ward of Kuopio University Hospital. Twenty-three patients (27%) had acute myeloid leukemia, and 63 patients (73%) were autologous stem cell transplant recipients. Serum caspase-cleaved CK-18 fragment M30, C-reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin (PCT) were measured at the onset of FN (d0), on day 1 (d1), and on day 2 (d2). Eight patients (9%) developed severe sepsis, including three patients with septic shock. Eighteen patients (21%) had a blood culture-positive infection. Serum CK-18 fragment peaked on the first day after fever onset in patients with severe sepsis. Higher CK-18 level was associated with severe sepsis, intensive care unit treatment, and fatal outcome, but not with blood culture positivity. In ROC curve analysis, d1 serum CK-18 fragment predicted severe sepsis with an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.767, CRP with an AUC of 0.764, and PCT with an AUC of 0.731. On d2, the best predictive capacity was observed for CRP with an AUC of 0.832. The optimal cutoff of caspase-cleaved CK-18 fragment M30 for predicting severe sepsis was 205 U/L on d1. In hematological patients, serum CK-18 fragment was found to be a potential prognostic marker of severe sepsis at early stages of FN.
© 2021. The Author(s).