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Procalcitonin

Rapid Marker for Bacterial Infection

Identifying whether the cause of inflammation in patients is of bacterial origin has been an important area of development in the clinical laboratory. Several clinical laboratory tests have been applied to the diagnosis of sepsis.1 The broth culture method is the gold standard for the diagnosis of bacterial infection, but a definitive result can take 24 hours or more before a conclusive diagnosis. A number of the inflammatory markers, such as leukocyte cell count, C reactive protein (CRP), and cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β, or IL-6), have been applied in the diagnosis of inflammation and infection, but their lack of specificity has generated a continued interest to develop more specific clinical laboratory tests.

One promising marker has been Procalcitonin (PCT), whose concentration has been found to be elevated in sepsis. Owing its specificity to bacterial infections, PCT has been proposed as a pertinent marker in the rapid diagnosis of bacterial infection, especially for use in hospital emergency departments and intensive care units.

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