Inflammatory mediators for the diagnosis and treatment of sepsis in early infancy

Pediatr Res. 2006 Mar;59(3):457-61. doi: 10.1203/01.pdr.0000200808.35368.57.


Interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-8 (IL-8), and procalcitonin (PCT) are important parameters in the diagnosis of sepsis and for differentiating between viral and bacterial infection in children. We compared the value of IL-6, IL-8, and PCT with C-reactive protein (CRP) in the diagnosis and treatment of late-onset sepsis among infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (group I) and febrile infants admitted to general hospitals from home (group II). Group I was divided into subgroups Ia, positive blood culture (all Gram-positive cocci); Ib, negative blood culture; and Ic, controls. Group II was divided into subgroups IIa, systemic enterovirus infection, and IIb, no enterovirus infection. Enterovirus was identified by real-time (RT) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and/or by culture in blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The positive predictive values of IL-6, IL-8, and PCT (78%, 72%, and 83%, respectively) were better than that of CRP (63%) in the diagnosis of neonatal sepsis. After 48 h of antibiotic treatment, IL-6 and IL-8 levels significantly decreased and PCT stabilized in clinically recovered patients, suggesting that these markers may be useful in distinguishing patients in which antibiotic treatment may be discontinued. Among infants of subgroup IIa, 80%-90% had normal values of IL-6, IL-8, and PCT, whereas CRP was increased in 40%. In conclusion, IL-6, IL-8, and PCT are better parameters than CRP in the diagnosis and follow-up of neonatal sepsis due to coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) and in the exclusion of bacterial infection among those with enteroviral infection among febrile infants presenting from home.

MeSH terms

  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Calcitonin / immunology*
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-8 / immunology*
  • Male
  • Protein Precursors / immunology*
  • Sepsis* / diagnosis
  • Sepsis* / immunology
  • Sepsis* / therapy


  • CALCA protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-8
  • Protein Precursors
  • Calcitonin
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide