How to use biomarkers of infection or sepsis at the bedside: guide to clinicians

Pedro Póvoa, Luís Coelho, Felipe Dal-Pizzol, Ricard Ferrer, Angela Huttner, Andrew Conway Morris, Vandack Nobre, Paula Ramirez, Anahita Rouze, Jorge Salluh, Mervyn Singer, Daniel A. Sweeney, Antoni Torres, Grant Waterer, Andre C. Kalil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Sepsis is defined as a life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. In this context, biomarkers could be considered as indicators of either infection or dysregulated host response or response to treatment and/or aid clinicians to prognosticate patient risk. More than 250 biomarkers have been identified and evaluated over the last few decades, but no biomarker accurately differentiates between sepsis and sepsis-like syndrome. Published data support the use of biomarkers for pathogen identification, clinical diagnosis, and optimization of antibiotic treatment. In this narrative review, we highlight how clinicians could improve the use of pathogen-specific and of the most used host-response biomarkers, procalcitonin and C-reactive protein, to improve the clinical care of patients with sepsis. Biomarker kinetics are more useful than single values in predicting sepsis, when making the diagnosis and assessing the response to antibiotic therapy. Finally, integrated biomarker-guided algorithms may hold promise to improve both the diagnosis and prognosis of sepsis. Herein, we provide current data on the clinical utility of pathogen-specific and host-response biomarkers, offer guidance on how to optimize their use, and propose the needs for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-153
Number of pages12
JournalIntensive Care Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • Antibiotic stewardship
  • Biomarkers
  • Diagnosis
  • Intensive care unit
  • Sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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