International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 126, Issue 4, pp 505–512 | Cite as

Evaluation of C-reactive protein, procalcitonin, tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6, and interleukin-8 as diagnostic parameters in sepsis-related fatalities

  • Bettina Schrag
  • Pascale Roux-Lombard
  • Deborah Schneiter
  • Paul Vaucher
  • Patrice Mangin
  • Cristian PalmiereEmail author
Original Article


The aims of this study were to investigate the usefulness of serum C-reactive protein, procalcitonin, tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6, and interleukin-8 as postmortem markers of sepsis and to compare C-reactive protein and procalcitonin values in serum, vitreous humor, and cerebrospinal fluid in a series of sepsis cases and control subjects, in order to determine whether these measurements may be employed for the postmortem diagnosis of sepsis. Two study groups were formed, a sepsis group (eight subjects coming from the intensive care unit of two university hospitals, with a clinical diagnosis of sepsis in vivo) and control group (ten autopsy cases admitted to two university medicolegal centers, deceased from natural and unnatural causes, without elements to presume an underlying sepsis as the cause of death). Serum C-reactive protein and procalcitonin concentrations were significantly different between sepsis cases and control cases, whereas serum tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6, and interleukin-8 values were not significantly different between the two groups, suggesting that measurement of interleukin-6, interleukin-8, and tumor necrosis factor alpha is non-optimal for postmortem discrimination of cases with sepsis. In the sepsis group, vitreous procalcitonin was detectable in seven out of eight cases. In the control group, vitreous procalcitonin was clearly detectable only in one case, which also showed an increase of all markers in serum and for which the cause of death was myocardial infarction associated with multi-organic failure. According to the results of this study, the determination of vitreous procalcitonin may be an alternative to the serum procalcitonin for the postmortem diagnosis of sepsis.


Sepsis Interleukins Procalcitonin C-reactive protein Postmortem biochemistry 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bettina Schrag
    • 1
  • Pascale Roux-Lombard
    • 2
  • Deborah Schneiter
    • 4
  • Paul Vaucher
    • 1
    • 3
  • Patrice Mangin
    • 1
    • 3
  • Cristian Palmiere
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.University Centre of Legal Medicine, Lausanne-GenevaGeneva 4Switzerland
  2. 2.Division of Immunology and Allergy, Department of Internal MedicineGeneva University Hospital and University of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  3. 3.University Centre of Legal Medicine, Lausanne-GenevaLausanneSwitzerland
  4. 4.University of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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