Procalcitonin as a marker of severe bacterial infection in children in the emergency department.

Deis JN, Creech CB, Estrada CM, Abramo TJ
Pediatr Emerg Care. 2010 26 (1): 51-60; quiz 61-3

PMID: 20065834 · DOI:10.1097/PEC.0b013e3181c399df

Procalcitonin, the prohormone of calcitonin, is a relatively new and innovative marker of bacterial infection that has multiple potential applications in the pediatric emergency department. In healthy individuals, circulating levels of procalcitonin are generally very low (<0.05 ng/mL), but in the setting of severe bacterial infection and sepsis, levels can increase by hundreds to thousands of fold within 4 to 6 hours. Although the exact physiologic function of procalcitonin has not been determined, the consistent response and rapid rise of this protein in the setting of severe bacterial infection make procalcitonin a very useful biomarker for invasive bacterial disease. In Europe, serum procalcitonin measurements are frequently used in the diagnosis and the management of patients in a variety of clinical settings. To date, the use of procalcitonin has been limited in the United States, but this valuable biomarker has many potential applications in both the pediatric emergency department and the intensive care unit. The intent of this article is to review the history of procalcitonin, describe the kinetics of the molecule in response to bacterial infection, describe the laboratory methods available for measuring procalcitonin, examine the main causes of procalcitonin elevation, and evaluate the potential applications of procalcitonin measurements in pediatric patients.

MeSH Terms (11)

Bacterial Infections Biomarkers Bronchitis Calcitonin Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide Emergency Service, Hospital Glycoproteins Hospitals, Pediatric Humans Protein Precursors Severity of Illness Index

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