Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 364–367 | Cite as

Persistently low plasma thioredoxin is associated with meningococcal septic shock in children

  • Matthew E. Callister
  • Anne Burke-Gaffney
  • Gregory J. Quinlan
  • Helen Betts
  • Simon Nadel
  • Timothy W. Evans
Pediatric Brief Report



To compare plasma levels of thioredoxin (Trx), TNF-α and IL-1β in children during the acute phase of meningococcal septic shock (MSS) and in convalescence.

Design and setting

Retrospective, observational study in the paediatric intensive care unit of a postgraduate teaching hospital.


Thirty-five children requiring intensive care for meningococcal sepsis; paired convalescent samples from 30 survivors (median interval between samples 62 days); 25 healthy control children.

Measurements and results

Plasma Trx levels were significantly lower in the children with MSS, both during the acute illness (5.5 ng/ml, IQR 1.4–11.4) and in convalescence (2.5 ng/ml, IQR 0.4–6.9) than controls (18.8 ng/ml, IQR 7.9–25.0). Levels of IL-1β and TNF-α were higher in patients with acute MSS (30.3 pg/ml, IQR 3.6–63.6, and 145.9 pg/ml, IQR 31.8–278.1 respectively) than controls (3.7 pg/ml, IQR 0–36.9, and 23.8 pg/ml, IQR 0–124.3, respectively). Levels fell in convalescence (3.7 pg/ml, IQR 0–25.5, 3.7 pg/ml, IQR 0–304.8, respectively). Plasma Trx was higher in non-survivors, albeit a small group (n = 5), than in survivors (n = 30). Trx, IL-1β, and TNF-α levels were not correlated with predicted mortality as assessed by the paediatric risk of mortality (PRISM) score.


Children with MSS exhibit persistently low plasma levels of Trx during acute illness and in convalescence.


Meningococcal infection Sepsis syndrome Systemic inflammatory response syndrome Thioredoxin Oxidation-reduction Cytokines 



M.C. was supported by a Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellowship; A.B.G. is supported by a Wellcome Trust University Award; G.J.Q. is supported by the Dunhill Medical Trust; H.B. is supported by a research grant from Children of St Mary's Intensive Care Unit (COSMIC). The study was also supported in part by a research grant from the Meningitis Research Foundation. Work performed in both institutions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew E. Callister
    • 1
  • Anne Burke-Gaffney
    • 1
  • Gregory J. Quinlan
    • 1
  • Helen Betts
    • 2
  • Simon Nadel
    • 2
  • Timothy W. Evans
    • 1
  1. 1.Unit of Critical Care, National Heart and Lung Institute Division, Imperial College Faculty of MedicineRoyal Brompton HospitalLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Paediatrics, St Mary’s HospitalImperial CollegeLondonUK

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