Procalcitonin and pneumonia: is it a useful marker?

Curr Infect Dis Rep. 2007 May;9(3):233-40. doi: 10.1007/s11908-007-0037-9.


An ideal biomarker for pneumonia should allow an early diagnosis and differential diagnosis from noninfectious conditions and should inform about the course and prognosis of the disease. Procalcitonin (PCT) covers these features better as compared to more commonly used biomarkers like C-reactive protein or leukocyte count. PCT complements and improves the assessment of pneumonia based on careful patient history, dedicated physical examination, and appropriate cultures. Importantly, a PCT-based therapeutic strategy can safely and markedly reduce antibiotic courses in community-acquired pneumonia. However, as is the cast with all diagnostic surrogate markers, PCT can be increased in noninfectious conditions and may remain low in bacterial infections, especially localized infections. This stresses the importance of follow-up measurements, because PCT levels in these patients often show a gradual increase during follow-up. Although PCT is -better than more common biomarkers for the prognosis of pneumonia and to predict survival and outcome, novel biomarkers show an even better prognostic accuracy.