Serum procalcitonin as a marker of post-cardiac arrest syndrome and long-term neurological recovery, but not of early-onset infections, in comatose post-anoxic patients treated with therapeutic hypothermia

Resuscitation. 2013 Jun;84(6):776-81. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2013.01.029. Epub 2013 Feb 1.


Objective: To examine the relationship of early serum procalcitonin (PCT) levels with the severity of post-cardiac arrest syndrome (PCAS), long-term neurological recovery and the risk of early-onset infections in patients with coma after cardiac arrest (CA) treated with therapeutic hypothermia (TH).

Methods: A prospective cohort of adult comatose CA patients treated with TH (33°C, for 24h) admitted to the medical/surgical intensive care unit, Lausanne University Hospital, was studied. Serum PCT was measured early after CA, at two time-points (days 1 and 2). The SOFA score was used to quantify the severity of PCAS. Diagnosis of early-onset infections (within the first 7 days of ICU stay) was made after review of clinical, radiological and microbiological data. Neurological recovery at 3 months was assessed with Cerebral Performance Categories (CPC), and was dichotomized as favorable (CPC 1-2) vs. unfavorable (CPC 3-5).

Results: From December 2009 to April 2012, 100 patients (median age 64 [interquartile range 55-73] years, median time from collapse to ROSC 20 [11-30]min) were studied. Peak PCT correlated with SOFA score at day 1 (Spearman's R=0.44, p<0.0001) and was associated with neurological recovery at 3 months (peak PCT 1.08 [0.35-4.45]ng/ml in patients with CPC 1-2 vs. 3.07 [0.89-9.99] ng/ml in those with CPC 3-5, p=0.01). Peak PCT did not differ significantly between patients with early-onset vs. no infections (2.14 [0.49-6.74] vs. 1.53 [0.46-5.38]ng/ml, p=0.49).

Conclusions: Early elevations of serum PCT levels correlate with the severity of PCAS and are associated with worse neurological recovery after CA and TH. In contrast, elevated serum PCT did not correlate with early-onset infections in this setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Calcitonin / blood*
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide
  • Coma / complications*
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest / blood*
  • Heart Arrest / therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia, Induced / adverse effects*
  • Hypothermia, Induced / methods
  • Hypoxia / blood
  • Hypoxia / complications*
  • Hypoxia / therapy
  • Infections / diagnosis
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Protein Precursors / blood*
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Switzerland
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers
  • CALCA protein, human
  • Protein Precursors
  • Calcitonin
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide