A Primed Neutrophil Subset Predicts the Risk of Bloodstream Infections in Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplant Patients: A Prospective Study

Clin Infect Dis. 2023 Sep 11;77(5):752-760. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciad277.


Background: Bloodstream infections (BSIs) are the most common infectious complication in patients who receive allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplants (allo-HSCTs). Polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) are quantified to monitor the susceptibility to BSIs; however, their degree of activation is not. We previously identified a population of primed PMNs (pPMNs) with distinct markers of activation representing approximately 10% of PMNs in circulation. In this study, we investigate whether susceptibility to BSIs is related to the proportion of pPMNs rather than strictly PMN counts.

Methods: In this prospective observational study, we used flow cytometry to assess pPMNs in blood and oral rinse samples collected from patients receiving an allo-HSCT over the course of their treatment. We used the proportion of pPMNs in the blood on day 5 post-transplant to categorize patients into a high- or a low-pPMN group (>10% or <10% pPMNs). These groups were then used as a predictor of BSIs.

Results: A total of 76 patients were enrolled in the study with 36 in the high-pPMN group and 40 in the low-pPMN group. Patients in the low-pPMN group had lower expression of PMN activation and recruitment markers and displayed a delay in PMN repopulation of the oral cavity after the transplant. These patients were more susceptible to BSIs compared with patients in the high-pPMN group with an odds ratio of 6.5 (95% confidence interval, 2.110-25.07; P = .002).

Conclusions: In patients who receive an allo-HSCT, having <10% pPMNs early in the post-transplant phase can be an independent predictor of BSI in allo-HSCT patients.

Keywords: allo-HSCT; bloodstream infections; neutrophils; polymorphonuclear neutrophil.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Neutrophils
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sepsis* / epidemiology
  • Sepsis* / etiology