Neglected Variables in the Interpretation of Serum Procalcitonin Levels in Patients With Septic Shock.

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The Journal of infectious diseases


The interpretation of serum procalcitonin (PCT) levels in septic patients is facilitated by reviewing the known stimuli that activate the PCT family of genes. Herein we describe 7 pathways that, alone or in combination, can increase serum PCT levels. As a marker of activation of innate immunity, high PCT levels affect clinical diagnosis, can be trended as a measure of "source" control, and can guide duration of antibacterial therapy in septic patients. Low PCT levels reflect little to no activation of an innate immune response, influence the differential diagnosis, and support the discontinuation of empiric antibiotic therapy. Understanding the pathways that result in elevated serum PCT levels is necessary for interpretation and subsequent clinical management.


Infectious Diseases


Graduate Medical Education