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Sepsis biomarkers: a review

Charalampos Pierrakos and Jean-Louis Vincent*

Author Affiliations

Department of Intensive Care, Erasme Hospital, Université Libre de Bruxelles, route de Lennik 808, 1070 Brussels, Belgium

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Critical Care 2010, 14:R15  doi:10.1186/cc8872

Published: 9 February 2010



Biomarkers can be useful for identifying or ruling out sepsis, identifying patients who may benefit from specific therapies or assessing the response to therapy.


We used an electronic search of the PubMed database using the key words "sepsis" and "biomarker" to identify clinical and experimental studies which evaluated a biomarker in sepsis.


The search retrieved 3370 references covering 178 different biomarkers.


Many biomarkers have been evaluated for use in sepsis. Most of the biomarkers had been tested clinically, primarily as prognostic markers in sepsis; relatively few have been used for diagnosis. None has sufficient specificity or sensitivity to be routinely employed in clinical practice. PCT and CRP have been most widely used, but even these have limited ability to distinguish sepsis from other inflammatory conditions or to predict outcome.