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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Procalcitonin and C-reactive protein levels at admission as predictors of duration of acute brain dysfunction in critically ill patients

Stuart McGrane1, Timothy D Girard23, Jennifer L Thompson4, Ayumi K Shintani4, Alison Woodworth5, E Wesley Ely23 and Pratik P Pandharipande16*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anesthesiology, Division of Critical Care, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, 526 MAB, 1211 21st Ave South, Nashville, TN 37212, USA

2 Department of Medicine, Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care Medicine and the Center for Health Services Research, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, 6100 MCE, 1215 21st Ave South, Nashville, TN 37212, USA

3 Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) Service, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 1310 24th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37212, USA

4 Department of Biostatistics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, S2323 MCN, 1161 21st Ave South, Nashville, TN 37212, USA

5 Department of Pathology, Division of Laboratory Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, 4918 EA TVC, 1161 21st Ave. S, Nashville, TN 37232, USA

6 Anesthesiology Service, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 1310 24th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37212, USA

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Critical Care 2011, 15:R78  doi:10.1186/cc10070

Published: 2 March 2011

Abstract

Introduction

Non-intensive care unit (ICU) cohorts have shown an association between inflammatory disturbances and delirium, though these relationships have not been studied in critically ill patients. This study sought to investigate the relationship between two inflammatory biomarkers, procalcitonin and C-reactive protein (CRP), and duration of acute brain dysfunction in ventilated patients.

Methods

Patients enrolled in the Maximizing Efficacy of Targeted Sedation and Reducing Neurological Dysfunction (MENDS) trial were assessed daily for delirium using the Confusion Assessment Method-ICU. Plasma levels of procalcitonin and CRP were obtained within 24 hours of enrollment. Proportional odds logistic regression was used to examine the association between procalcitonin and CRP separately with delirium/coma-free days, adjusting for age, acute physiology score (APS) of the Acute Physiology And Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II, sedation group (dexmedetomidine vs. lorazepam), and sepsis. Secondary analyses examined the association of these markers with other organ dysfunctions and 28-day survival.

Results

Eighty-seven patients were included in this analysis. The median age of the patients was 60 years with APACHE II scores of 28; 68% had sepsis within 48 hours of admission. Higher levels of procalcitonin were associated with fewer delirium/coma-free days [odds ratio (OR), 0.5; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.3 to 1.0; P = 0.04], whereas higher CRP levels showed trends towards fewer delirium/coma-free days (OR, 0.6; 95% CI, 0.3 to 1.1; P = 0.08). Similar relationships were found regardless of the presence of sepsis. No associations were found between procalcitonin or CRP with 28-day survival (P = 0.40 and 0.16, respectively).

Conclusions

In our pilot study, high baseline inflammatory biomarkers predicted prolonged periods of acute brain dysfunction, implicating inflammation as an important mechanism in the pathophysiology of delirium and coma during critical illness, irrespective of whether patients had sepsis or not.