Sepsis with liver dysfunction and coagulopathy predicts an inflammatory pattern of macrophage activation

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10 Scopus citations


Background: Interleukin-1 receptor antagonists can reduce mortality in septic shock patients with hepatobiliary dysfunction and disseminated intravascular coagulation (HBD + DIC), an organ failure pattern with inflammatory features consistent with macrophage activation. Identification of clinical phenotypes in sepsis may allow for improved care. We aim to describe the occurrence of HBD + DIC in a contemporary cohort of patients with sepsis and determine the association of this phenotype with known macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) biomarkers and mortality. We performed a retrospective nested case–control study in adult septic shock patients with concurrent HBD + DIC and an equal number of age-matched controls, with comparative analyses of all-cause mortality and circulating biomarkers between the groups. Multiple logistic regression explored the effect of HBD + DIC on mortality and the discriminatory power of the measured biomarkers for HBD + DIC and mortality. Results: Six percent of septic shock patients (n = 82/1341) had HBD + DIC, which was an independent risk factor for 90-day mortality (OR = 3.1, 95% CI 1.4–7.5, p = 0.008). Relative to sepsis controls, the HBD + DIC cohort had increased levels of 21 of the 26 biomarkers related to macrophage activation (p < 0.05). This panel was predictive of both HBD + DIC (sensitivity = 82%, specificity = 84%) and mortality (sensitivity = 92%, specificity = 90%). Conclusion: The HBD + DIC phenotype identified patients with high mortality and a molecular signature resembling that of MAS. These observations suggest trials of MAS-directed therapies are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalIntensive Care Medicine Experimental
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Ferritin
  • IL-18
  • Organ dysfunction
  • Phenotype
  • Sepsis


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