Background: Postoperative sepsis is one of the main causes of death after major abdominal surgery; however, the immunologic factors contributing to the development of sepsis are not completely understood. In this study, we evaluated gene expression in patients who developed postoperative sepsis and in patients with an uncomplicated postoperative course.
Methods: We enrolled 220 patients in a retrospective matched-pair, case-control pilot study to investigate the perioperative expression of 23 inflammation-related genes regarding their properties for predicting postoperative sepsis. Twenty patients exhibiting symptoms of sepsis in the first 14 days after surgery (case group) were matched with 20 control patients with an uncomplicated postoperative course. Matching criteria were sex, age, main diagnosis, type of surgery, and concomitant diseases. Blood samples were drawn before surgery and on the first and second postoperative days. Relative gene expression was analyzed with real-time reverse-transcription PCR.
Results: Significant differences (P < 0.005) in gene expression between the 2 groups were observed for IL1B (interleukin 1, beta), TNF [tumor necrosis factor (TNF superfamily, member 2)], CD3D [CD3d molecule, delta (CD3-TCR complex)], and PRF1 [perforin 1 (pore forming protein)]. Logistic regression analysis and a subsequent ROC curve analysis revealed that the combination of TNF, IL1B, and CD3D expression had a specificity and specificity of 90% and 85%, respectively, and predicted exclusion of postoperative sepsis with an estimated negative predictive value of 98.1%.
Conclusions: These data suggest that gene expression analysis may be an effective tool for differentiating patients at high and low risk for sepsis after abdominal surgery.