Longitudinal studies of inter-alpha inhibitor proteins in severely septic patients: a potential clinical marker and mediator of severe sepsis

Crit Care Med. 2007 Feb;35(2):387-92. doi: 10.1097/01.CCM.0000253810.08230.83.


Objective: To determine the clinical relevance and prognostic significance of serial measurement of inter-alpha inhibitor proteins (IalphaIp) in severely septic patients.

Design: A laboratory-based study of serial plasma samples over the first 5 days of severe sepsis from a prospective clinical trial.

Setting: Small business and academic medical center research laboratories.

Patients: Two hundred sixty-six patients with severe sepsis from a multiple-center phase III clinical trial.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: Inter-alpha inhibitor proteins serve as endogenous serine protease inhibitors in human plasma. The levels of IalphaIp were markedly reduced to a mean value of 290+/-15 microg/mL at the onset of severe sepsis compared with normal plasma levels (617+/-197 microg/mL). Failure of IalphaIp levels to recover over the first 5 days of sepsis was associated with an unfavorable outcome (p<.001). IalphaIp levels were inversely correlated with interleukin-6 levels at study entry and over the first 5 days of management of severe sepsis. IalphaIp levels were significantly lower in women, with increased age, in the presence of multiple organ failure and in patients with intra-abdominal sources of sepsis.

Conclusions: Inter-alpha inhibitor proteins are markedly reduced in severe sepsis, and failure of recovery of IalphaIp levels over the course of sepsis is associated with an unfavorable outcome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alpha-Globulins / analysis*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sepsis / blood*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors


  • Alpha-Globulins
  • Biomarkers
  • inter-alpha-inhibitor