Circulating precursor levels of endothelin-1 and adrenomedullin, two endothelium-derived, counteracting substances, in sepsis

Endothelium. 2007 Nov-Dec;14(6):345-51. doi: 10.1080/10623320701678326.


Plasma levels of endothelin-1 (ET-1) and adrenomedullin (ADM), two opposingly acting peptides, correlate with mortality in endotoxemia, but their measurement is cumbersome. New sandwich assays have been introduced that measure more stable precursor fragments. The objective of this study was to investigate the counterplay of their precursor peptides in septic patients and to compare them with disease severity and other biomarkers. Blood samples of an observational study in 95 consecutive critically ill patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) were analyzed. CT-proET-1 and MR-proADM concentrations on admission were measured using new sandwich immunoassays. Depending on the clinical severity of the infection, both CT-proET-1 and MR-proADM levels exhibited a gradual increase from Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS) to sepsis and septic shock (p < .001). Compared to the group of survivors, the group of nonsurvivors had higher median values of MR-proADM (5.7 nmol/L [range 0.4 to 21.0] versus 1.9 nmol/L [range 0.3 to 17.1], p < .02) and similar CT-proET-1 levels (56.0pmol/L [range 0.5 to 271.0] versus 54.1pmol/L [range 1.0 to 506.0], p = .86). Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve analysis showed a higher prognostic accuracy of the calculated ratio of both counteracting substances as compared to CT-proET-1 (p = 0.001) and C-reactive protein (CRP) (p = .001) and in the range of MR-proADM (p = .51), procalcitonin (p = 0.22), and the APACHE II score (p = .61). Endothelin-1 and adrenomedullin precursor peptides gradually increase with increasing severities of infection in critically ill patients. The ratio of the two counteracting peptides correlates with mortality and shows a prognostic accuracy to predict adverse outcome comparable to the APACHE II score.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenomedullin / blood*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Endothelin-1 / blood*
  • Endothelium / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Middle Aged
  • Protein Precursors / blood*
  • ROC Curve
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sepsis / blood*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • ADM protein, human
  • Endothelin-1
  • Protein Precursors
  • Adrenomedullin