New technologies for the rapid diagnosis of neonatal sepsis

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2012 Apr;24(2):165-71. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e3283504df3.


Purpose of review: To present recent literature on novel diagnostic tests in neonatal sepsis.

Recent findings: Our review of technologies for the rapid diagnosis of neonatal sepsis includes new adaptations of time-honored tests as well as advances on the forefront of medicine. A recent study demonstrates that age-specific likelihood values for the complete blood count may determine risk of infection. Systematic reviews of procalcitonin, mannose-binding lectin and molecular amplification techniques provide summary data from accumulated literature on these tests. Proteomics-based and genomics-based exploratory researches suggest new combinations of markers as important signals of sepsis, whereas damage-associated molecular patterns, a class of inflammatory mediators now viewed as key players in the inflammatory cascade, may be useful predictors of disease progression and severity. Heart rate variability monitoring has also been suggested as a way to reduce mortality in very low birth weight neonates. Finally, molecular techniques are rapidly advancing in sophistication and may soon be useful as adjunctive bacterial identification tests.

Summary: Several novel tests show promise in the early detection of sepsis. Highlights include new combinations of biomarkers unearthed by proteomics-based research and identification of sepsis based on gene expression profiling. Future research should focus on validation of these findings and further refinement of molecular techniques.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute-Phase Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacteremia / diagnosis
  • Bacteriological Techniques / methods
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Sepsis / diagnosis*


  • Acute-Phase Proteins
  • Biomarkers
  • Inflammation Mediators