Procalcitonin: A Biomarker for Early Sepsis Intervention

Sepsis is a potentially fatal condition that strikes an estimated 750,000 people each year in the United States. Defined as the body’s reaction to infection (whether bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic), sepsis is the most common underlying cause of mortality in non-coronary ICUs. It can rapidly lead to systemic inflammatory reactions and, eventually, organ dysfunction or failure. People who are at greatest risk of developing sepsis include patients who are very young or very old, those with compromised immune systems, those who are hospitalized and are very sick, and individuals with invasive devices (eg, urinary catheters or breathing tubes). Early recognition of sepsis, specific clinical interventions, and timely initiation of appropriate therapy are critical for helping patients survive this potentially devastating condition. Unfortunately, sepsis can be difficult to distinguish from other, non-infectious conditions in critically ill patients, especially for those with clinical signs of acute inflammation and negative microbiological results. The condition can be challenging to manage in the early phases of the disease because it may be difficult to decide on the appropriate therapeutic measures for each individual patient. Oftentimes, by the time an accurate diagnosis is made, patients may have progressed to the final stages of the disease. The need for more effective strategies to help intervene in and manage sepsis is urgent. Procalcitonin to Diagnose & Monitor Sepsis A novel biomarker called procalcitonin (PCT) is now being recognized as a useful tool in the diagnostic process for sepsis. PCT can contribute to the risk assessment and optimization of patient management and clinical decisions. It is the prohormone of calcitonin (CT). CT is secreted by the C-cells...