Procalcitonin in clinical practice: from diagnosis of sepsis to antibiotic therapy


A diagnostic algorithm that allows for the rapid identification of sepsis and possibly guides the appropriate antimicrobial therapy application is the cornerstone to obtaining effective treatment and better results. The use of emerging surrogate markers could significantly improve clinical practice, but the validity and clinical utility have been proved only for very few of them, and their availability in clinical routine is limited. For this purpose, numerous scientific evidence has indicated procalcitonin as a marker linked to sepsis and its evolution. This review aims to retrace the main evidence relating to the use of procalcitonin in sepsis. We analyzed the primary studies in the literature and the existing meta-analysis evaluating the behavior of procalcitonin as a marker of bacterial sepsis, its prognostic power, and its ability to influence antibiotic therapy. Recent evidence has suggested that procalcitonin could be an efficient marker for diagnosing sepsis and its therapeutic management in many types of patients. The choice of the appropriate timing to initiate and suspend antibiotic therapy, with obvious clinical advantages, the favorable effects could also include reducing health costs, both avoiding the administration of inappropriate antibiotic therapies, and reducing the duration of hospitalization. Moreover, limited studies reported high procalcitonin levels in coronavirus disease 2019 patients with a worse prognosis. Despite the considerable evidence in favor of the potential of procalcitonin as an index for managing septic patients, there are conflicting data that deserve specific and detailed studies.



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COVID-19, procalcitonin, sepsis, antimicrobial therapy.
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How to Cite
Cioni, G., Canini, J., & Pieralli, F. (2021). Procalcitonin in clinical practice: from diagnosis of sepsis to antibiotic therapy. Italian Journal of Medicine, 15(1).