CINCINNATI About 4,000 children in the United States die every year from uncontrolled infections of the body known as septic shock, and researchers are pushing the boundaries of molecular science to find new therapies that can stem the condition. But a simple measure of an immune system protein within 24 hours of being admitted to the hospital for septic shock can predict survival in children, yielding a powerful tool for diagnostics and clinical trials of new septic shock therapies, according to a research team led by Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in the Aug. 1 American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The protein, interleukin-8 (IL-8), is secreted into the blood as part of the body's immune system response, the chief defense mechanism against infection-related conditions like septic shock. Previous research by the authors showed that higher blood levels of IL-8 are associated with more severe cases of pediatric septic shock and a greater chance of death. That research also pointed to the potential value of IL-8 as an early diagnostic marker of systemic bacterial infections.
The new study reports an IL-8 blood level at or below 220 pg/ml (picograms per milliliter) should allow doctors to predict with 95 percent accuracy which children with septic shock can survive through conventional antibiotics and therapies for at least 28 days following admission. Additionally, measuring IL-8 levels would make it possible to screen lower risk patients out of interventional clinical trials of experimental therapies, said Hector Wong, M.D., a physician and researcher of Critical Care Medicine at Cincinnati Children's and the study's lead author.
"Using IL-8 as a biomarker to screen low-risk septic shock patients from clinical trials of experimental or potentially high-risk therapies is an effective strategy to improve the risk-to-benefit ratio of a given intervention," said Dr. Wong, who also is professor
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Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center