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Procalcitonin versus C-reactive protein: review of kinetics and performance for diagnosis of neonatal sepsis

Samantha Eschborn, Joern-Hendrik Weitkamp
Journal of Perinatology: Official Journal of the California Perinatal Association 2019, 39 (7): 893-903
Procalcitonin (PCT) and C-reactive protein (CRP) are commonly used biomarkers, but their diagnostic advantage for neonatal early-onset (EOS) or late-onset (LOS) sepsis is controversial. In a comprehensive literature review we found significant heterogeneity between studies in sample timing, cut-off values, consideration of blood culture results for sepsis classification, and definition of EOS versus LOS. We identified 39 studies directly comparing PCT with CRP, but only four in very low birth weight (VLBW) neonates. The mean sensitivity for EOS, LOS, and EOS + LOS was 73.6%, 88.9%, and 76.5% for PCT, compared to 65.6%, 77.4%, and 66.4% for CRP, respectively. Mean specificity of PCT and CRP was 82.8% versus 82.7% for EOS, 75.6% versus 81.7% for LOS, and 80.4% versus 91.3% for EOS + LOS. More studies directly comparing both biomarkers for EOS and LOS, especially in extremely and very-low-birth-weight infants, are needed to determine their clinical value for guidance of antibiotic therapy in neonatal sepsis.


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