The association of endothelial cell signaling, severity of illness, and organ dysfunction in sepsis

Nathan I. Shapiro, Philipp Schuetz, Kiichiro Yano, Midori Sorasaki, Samir M. Parikh, Alan E. Jones, Stephen Trzeciak, Long Ngo, William C. Aird

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

196 Scopus citations


Introduction: Previous reports suggest that endothelial activation is an important process in sepsis pathogenesis. We investigated the association between biomarkers of endothelial cell activation and sepsis severity, organ dysfunction sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) score, and death.Methods: This is a prospective, observational study including adult patients (age 18 years or older) presenting with clinical suspicion of infection to the emergency department (ED) of an urban, academic medical center between February 2005 and November 2008. Blood was sampled during the ED visit and biomarkers of endothelial cell activation, namely soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt-1), plasminogen activator inhibitors -1 (PAI-1), sE-selectin, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule (sICAM-1), and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule (sVCAM-1), were assayed. The association between biomarkers and the outcomes of sepsis severity, organ dysfunction, and in-hospital mortality were analyzed.Results: A total of 221 patients were included: sepsis without organ dysfunction was present in 32%, severe sepsis without shock in 30%, septic shock in 32%, and 6% were non-infected control ED patients. There was a relationship between all target biomarkers (sFlt-1, PAI-1, sE-selectin, sICAM-1, and sVCAM-1) and sepsis severity, P < 0.05. We found a significant inter-correlation between all biomarkers, including the strongest correlations between sFlt-1 and sE-selectin (r = 0.55, P < 0.001), and between sFlt-1 and PAI-1 (0.56, P < 0.001). Among the endothelial cell activation biomarkers, sFlt-1 had the strongest association with SOFA score (r = 0.66, P < 0.001), the highest area under the receiver operator characteristic curve for severe sepsis of 0.82, and for mortality of 0.91.Conclusions: Markers of endothelial cell activation are associated with sepsis severity, organ dysfunction and mortality. An improved understanding of endothelial response and associated biomarkers may lead to strategies to more accurately predict outcome and develop novel endothelium-directed therapies in sepsis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberR182
JournalCritical Care
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 13 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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