Sepsis May Be Detected Earlier by Gene Chip Technology

Testing a new method in mice, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found the profiles could accurately discriminate between the two conditions 94 percent of the time. The molecular profiles measure differences in patterns of gene expression that are unique to sepsis vs. non-infectious inflammation.

"Our findings hold out hope that scientists could develop a simple bedside blood test that would greatly speed the diagnosis of sepsis," says J. Perren Cobb, MD, director of Washington University's Center for Critical Illness and Health Engineering. "We could in a few hours determine if a patient had a blood infection and treat them right away."

In the new research, Cobb and his colleagues mimicked sickness in four groups of mice: each of three groups had a varying severity of sepsis and a fourth had systemic non-infectious inflammation. The researchers looked at the activity of thousands of genes 24 hours after the onset of sickness with the goal of identifying all the genes that might be markers of inflammation and infection. They found that it was not the magnitude of change in gene expression that accurately distinguished sepsis from systemic inflammation - instead, it was the pattern of changes that proved to be important. "Based on the profiles, we could easily distinguish mice who were sick with infection from mice who were really sick but did not have an infection," Cobb says.

Nine of these genes turned out to be common responders to inflammation and infection in mice. Five of the genes identified are linked to the activation or maturation of white blood cells called neutrophils. These cells are the immune system's first line of defense against invading organisms. "We think this is an important first step to developing a similar test for human patients," Cobb summarizes.

COMPAMED.de; Source: Washington University School of Medicine