Elevated serum neopterin level: its relation to endotoxaemia and sepsis in patients with major burns
The present study was conducted to determine the relationship between levels of neopterin and endotoxin in the circulation, and whether the neopterin level was related to the development of severe sepsis after extensive burns. This prospective study included 35 patients with burn size greater than 30% (30–98%), and 22 healthy volunteers who served as a comparison group. Neopterin levels increased in most patients on day 3 post-burn, but they were not significantly correlated with the extent of the burn surface (P > 0.05). A high serum neopterin level was found in patients with sepsis (n = 15), and a marked elevation persisted throughout the observation period. The difference between septic and non-septic patients (n = 20) became significant on 14 and 28 days post-burn. Although the presence of early endotoxaemia did not influence the alterations in serum neopterin, patients with endotoxaemia had much higher neopterin values than those who showed no endotoxaemia from the second week onward (P < 0.05–0.01). In addition, circulating endotoxin and neopterin levels were positively correlated in patients who developed endotoxaemia on day 14 (r = 0.368, P < 0.05) and day 21 (r = 0.439, P < 0.01) after major burns. These results suggest that thermal injury can lead to an elevation of serum neopterin independent of the burn surface area. The initial increase in the neopterin level may be a part of the acute-phase response to tissue injury itself, whereas the endotoxin release in the circulation may be responsible for the continuous induction of neopterin during the late stage. In addition, the presence of a constant high neopterin level is associated with a critical event in the development of severe burn sepsis.
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