Sepsis management remains one of the most important challenges in modern clinical practice. Rapid progression from sepsis to septic shock is practically unpredictable, hence the critical need for sepsis biomarkers that can help clinicians in the management of patients to reduce the probability of a fatal outcome. Circulating nucleoproteins released during the inflammatory response to infection, including neutrophil extracellular traps, nucleosomes, and histones, and nuclear proteins like HMGB1, have been proposed as markers of disease progression since they are related to inflammation, oxidative stress, endothelial damage, and impairment of the coagulation response, among other pathological features. The aim of this work was to evaluate the actual potential for decision making/outcome prediction of the most commonly proposed chromatin-related biomarkers (i.e., nucleosomes, citrullinated H3, and HMGB1). To do this, we compared different ELISA measuring methods for quantifying plasma nucleoproteins in a cohort of critically ill patients diagnosed with sepsis or septic shock compared to nonseptic patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), as well as to healthy subjects. Our results show that all studied biomarkers can be used to monitor sepsis progression, although they vary in their effectiveness to separate sepsis and septic shock patients. Our data suggest that HMGB1/citrullinated H3 determination in plasma is potentially the most promising clinical tool for the monitoring and stratification of septic patients.
Keywords: ELISA; HMGB1; biomarkers; circulating histones; nucleosomes; sepsis; septic shock.