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Pleural fluid pentraxin-3 for the differential diagnosis of pleural effusions.

BACKGROUND: Conventional biomarkers cannot always establish the cause of pleural effusions; thus, alternative tests permitting rapid and accurate diagnosis are required. The primary aim of this study is to assess the ability of pentraxin-3 (PTX3) in order to diagnose the cause of pleural effusion and compare its efficacy to that of other previously identified biomarkers.

METHODS: We studied 118 patients with pleural effusion, classified as transudates and exudates including malignant, tuberculous, and parapneumonic effusions (MPE, TPE, and PPE). The levels of PTX3, C-reactive protein (CRP), procalcitonin (PCT) and lactate in the pleural fluid were assessed.

RESULTS: The levels of pleural fluid PTX3 were significantly higher in patients with PPE than in those with MPE or TPE. PTX3 yielded the most favorable discriminating ability to predict PPE from MPE or TPE by providing the following: area under the curve, 0.74 (95% confidence interval, 0.63-0.84), sensitivity, 62.07%; and specificity, 81.08% with a cut-off point of 25.00 ng/mL.

CONCLUSION: Our data suggests that PTX3 may allow improved differentiation of PPE from MPE or TPE compared to the previously identified biomarkers CRP and PCT.

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