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Exogenous procalcitonin evokes a pro-inflammatory cytokine response

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Procalcitonin (ProCT) is increased in serum of septic patients and those with systemic inflammation. Endogenous levels of ProCT might influence the response of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs), independently of endotoxin, in clinical disease.


Healthy human volunteers.


Recombinant human ProCT (rhProCT).


Whole blood and PMNs were exposed in vitro to exogenous rhProCT. Interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-13, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα), IL-1β, and macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1β (pg/ml) were measured by multiplex suspension bead-array immunoassay, and migration and phagocytosis were measured in PMNs.


In a whole-blood model, a dose-dependent increase in IL-6, TNFα, and IL-1β of the cell-free supernatant was noted. Pre-incubation with ProCT, at doses consistent with clinical sepsis, resulted in a decrease in PMN migration without alteration in phagocytosis of Staphylococcus aureus or indirect measurements of bacterial killing.


Clinically relevant levels of ProCT influence immunologic responses that may contribute to systemic inflammatory response and septic shock.

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Correspondence to Angelike P. Liappis.

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Responsible Editor: Artur Bauhofer.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Liappis, A.P., Gibbs, K.W., Nylen, E.S. et al. Exogenous procalcitonin evokes a pro-inflammatory cytokine response. Inflamm. Res. 60, 203–207 (2011).

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