Association of serum calprotectin concentrations with mortality in critically ill and septic patients

Theresa H. Wirtz, Lukas Buendgens, Ralf Weiskirchen, Sven H. Loosen, Nina Haehnsen, Tobias Puengel, Samira Abu Jhaisha, Jonathan F. Brozat, Philipp Hohlstein, Ger Koek, Albrecht Eisert, Raphael Mohr, Christoph Roderburg, Tom Luedde, Christian Trautwein, Frank Tacke, Alexander Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Calprotectin is present in the cytosol of neutrophil granulocytes and released upon activation. Fecal calprotectin is applied in the clinical management of inflammatory bowel disease whereas serum calprotectin has been discussed as a biomarker in inflammatory disorders. However, its long-term prognostic relevance in critical illness remains unclear. Our aim was to investigate serum calprotectin concentrations as a prognostic biomarker in critically ill and septic patients. Methods: Serum calprotectin concentrations were analyzed in 165 critically ill patients (108 with sepsis, 57 without sepsis) included in our observational study. Patients were enrolled upon admission to the medical intensive care unit (ICU) of the RWTH Aachen University Hospital. Calprotectin concentrations were compared to 24 healthy controls and correlated with clinical parameters, therapeutic interventions, and survival. Results: Serum calprotectin concentrations were significantly increased in ICU patients as well as in septic patients compared to respective controls (p < 0.001 for ICU patients and p = 0.001 for septic patients). Lower calprotectin concentrations were measured in patients with comorbidities i.e., coronary artery disease. Calprotectin concentrations strongly correlated with the C-reactive protein (p < 0.001) and were closely associated to parameters of mechanical ventilation (i.a. inspiratory oxygen fraction, FiO2; p < 0.001). The overall survival was significantly impaired in septic patients with high baseline calprotectin concentrations (p = 0.036). However, patients with increasing calprotectin serum concentrations within the first week of ICU admission showed an improved overall survival (p = 0.009). Conclusions: In summary, serum calprotectin concentrations are significantly increased in critically ill patients with sepsis. High calprotectin concentrations at ICU admission predict long-term mortality risk, whereas increasing calprotectin concentrations are associated with a favorable long-term outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number990
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarker
  • Intensive care unit
  • Organ failure
  • Prognosis
  • Sepsis


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