Biomarkers for diagnosis of neonatal sepsis: a literature review

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2018 Jun;31(12):1646-1659. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2017.1322060. Epub 2017 May 7.


Sepsis is an important cause of mortality and morbidity in neonatal populations. There has been constant search of an ideal sepsis biomarker that have high sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV), so that both the diagnosis and exclusion of neonatal sepsis can be made at the earliest possible and appropriate antibiotics can be started to neonate. Ideal sepsis biomarker will help in guiding us when not to start antibiotics in case of suspect sepsis and total duration of antibiotics course in case of proven sepsis. There are numerous sepsis biomarkers that have been evaluated for early detection of neonatal sepsis but till date there is no single ideal biomarker that fulfills all essential criteria's for being an ideal biomarker. The most commonly used biomarkers are C-reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin (PCT), but both have shown varied sensitivity, specificity, PPV and NPV in different studies. We conducted literature search for various neonatal sepsis biomarkers and this review article will cover briefly all the markers with current available evidence.

Keywords: Biomarker; negative predictive value; neonatal sepsis; positive predictive value; sensitivity; specificity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neonatal Sepsis / blood*


  • Biomarkers