Update on procalcitonin measurements

Ann Lab Med. 2014 Jul;34(4):263-73. doi: 10.3343/alm.2014.34.4.263. Epub 2014 Jun 19.


Procalcitonin (PCT) is used as a biomarker for the diagnosis of sepsis, severe sepsis and septic shock. At the same time, PCT has also been used to guide antibiotic therapy. This review outlines the main indications for PCT measurement and points out possible pitfalls. The classic indications for PCT measurement are: (i) confirmation or exclusion of diagnosis of sepsis, severe sepsis, or septic shock, (ii) severity assessment and follow up of systemic inflammation mainly induced by microbial infection, and (iii) individual, patient adapted guide of antibiotic therapy and focus treatment. Using serially monitored PCT levels, the duration and need of antibiotic therapy can be better adapted to the individual requirements of the patient. This individualized approach has been evaluated in various studies, and it is recommended to be a part of an antibiotic stewardship program.

Keywords: Anti-bacterial agents; Critical illness; Intensive care units; Procalcitonin; Sepsis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Calcitonin / analysis*
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide
  • Humans
  • Protein Precursors / analysis*
  • Sepsis / complications
  • Sepsis / diagnosis
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Shock, Septic / complications
  • Shock, Septic / diagnosis


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