Siderophore production as a biomarker for Klebsiella pneumoniae strains that cause sepsis: A pilot study

J Formos Med Assoc. 2021 Jul 13;S0929-6646(21)00307-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jfma.2021.06.027. Online ahead of print.


Background/purpose: Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteremia-induced sepsis is a clinically important condition with a high mortality rate and various known virulence factors. However, studies on the association of these virulence factors with the occurrence of K. pneumoniae bacteremia-induced sepsis are scarce. We aimed to investigate clinical variables and virulence factors in patients with K. pneumoniae bacteremia-induced sepsis.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 76 patients with K. pneumoniae bacteremia between January 2012 and July 2017. Patients were divided into sepsis (n = 25) and non-sepsis (n = 51) groups. Patient background characteristics, antimicrobial regimens, and prognosis were evaluated. We assessed the distribution of virulence factors related to K. pneumoniae, such as mucoviscosity, capsular polysaccharide, and siderophores. Siderophore production levels were determined by measuring the orange halo zone on chrome azurol S agar plate assay.

Results: There were no intergroup differences in male-to-female ratio and age. Multivariable analysis revealed that siderophore production level (p < 0.01) was an independent predictor of K. pneumoniae bacteremia-induced sepsis. Furthermore, the optimal cut-off point of siderophore production to predict sepsis was 9.6 mm (sensitivity, 86%; specificity, 76%; AUC, 0.81).

Conclusion: Siderophore production was an independent predictor of sepsis caused by K. pneumoniae bacteremia. The optimal cut-off point for siderophore production for sepsis occurrence prediction was 9.6 mm. To improve outcomes, patients with K. pneumoniae bacteremia-induced sepsis with high siderophore production levels should be managed prudently.

Keywords: Bacteremia; Klebsiella pneumoniae; Sepsis; Siderophore production.