Pediatric Persistent Inflammation, Immunosuppression, and Catabolism Syndrome Prevalence in Sepsis-Related Mortalities: A 23-Year Institutional History

Chest. 2023 Nov;164(5):1204-1215. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2023.05.002. Epub 2023 May 8.


Background: Delayed mortality in sepsis often is linked to a lack of resolution in the inflammatory cascade termed persistent inflammation, immunosuppression, and catabolism syndrome (PICS). Limited research exists on PICS in pediatric patients with sepsis.

Research question: What is the prevalence of pediatric PICS (pPICS) in patients who died of sepsis-related causes and what associated pathogen profiles and comorbidities did they have compared with those patients without pPICS who died from sepsis?

Study design and methods: A retrospective study of a single institution using a de-identified database from 1997 through 2020 for all patients aged 21 years or younger who died of culture-positive sepsis from a known source and who had laboratory data available were evaluated for the presence of pPICS.

Results: Among records extracted from the institutional database, 557 patients had culture-positive sepsis, with 262 patients having pPICS (47%). Patients with pPICS were more likely to have underlying hematologic or oncologic disease or cardiac disease. In addition, patients who had pPICS showed increased odds of associated fungal infection compared with those patients who did not (OR, 2.69; 95% CI, 1.59-4.61; P < .001). When assessing laboratory criteria, having a sustained absolute lymphocyte count of < 1.0 × 103/μL was most closely associated with having pPICS compared with other laboratory parameters. Finally, the results of multivariate logistic regression analysis indicated that patients with pPICS were more common in the cardiac ICU, as opposed to the PICU (OR, 3.43; CI, 1.57-7.64; P = .002).

Interpretation: Pediatric patients who died of a sepsis-related cause have a pPICS phenotype nearly one-half of the time. These patients are more likely to be in the cardiac ICU than the pediatric ICU and have associated fungal infections. Special attention should be directed toward this population in future research.

Keywords: cardiac disease; chronic critical illness; fungal infections; immunosuppression; sepsis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Death
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy*
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sepsis*
  • Syndrome