Interleukin-6 concentrations in neonates evaluated for sepsis

J Pediatr. 1998 Feb;132(2):295-9. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(98)70448-2.


Objectives: This study was performed to determine serum concentrations of interleukin-6 (IL-6) during bacterial infections in the first week of life and to evaluate the usefulness of IL-6 as a diagnostic test for perinatal bacterial infections, alone and in combination with C-reactive protein (CRP).

Study design: Blood was obtained from 241 newborn children on admission to the neonatal intensive care unit and at 3 to 4 days after admission. Both samples were analyzed for IL-6, CRP, and white blood cell count with differential.

Results: Twenty-four newborns were classified as having an infection. Increased serum IL-6 levels were detected in infected compared with noninfected newborns on admission (p < 0.0001). Detection of IL-6 (> or = 20 pg/ml) alone yielded a sensitivity of 78%, a specificity of 71%, a positive predictive value of 40%, and a negative predictive value of 93%. A combined parameter of IL-6 (> or = 50 pg/ml) and CRP (> or = 10 mg/L) yielded a sensitivity of 96%, a specificity of 74%, a positive predictive value of 49%, and a negative predictive value of 99%.

Conclusions: Used in combination with CRP, IL-6 seems to be a valuable parameter in the early diagnosis of neonatal infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Assay
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sepsis / diagnosis*


  • Interleukin-6
  • C-Reactive Protein