Severe sepsis : epidemiology and sex-related differences in inflammatory markers

Abstract: Background.  Sepsis is a syndrome associated with high mortality rates, substantial morbidity and high costs of care. The incidents of sepsis is reported to be high and controversy exists whether gender affect severity or outcome. Little is known about factors determining suscepti­bility for developing the syndrome and severity of the syndrome once developed. Early detection and adequate antibiotic administration are the mainstay of treatment and means to identify patients with particular high risk of adverse outcome are desirable. There are data to suggest that the course of sepsis and outcome from the syndrome may be influenced by inherited differences in the immunological response among humansAims: Paper I: Assess incidence and outcome for ICU-treated sepsis patients in this region; Paper II: Assess if there are gender differences related to characteristics, aspects of treatment or out­come in sepsis in this region. Paper III: Assess the association of baseline levels of leptin and adiponectin and future sepsis event, and association of these adipokines in the cute phase and sepsis severity and outcome. Paper IV: Assess association of baseline levels of mannose-binding lectin (MBL) and future sepsis event, and MBL levels in the acute phase in relation to sepsis severity and outcome.Results. Paper I:  Overall ICU mortality rate was 25%, while the ICU mortality for patients with septic shock was 58% in this retrospective single university hospital cohort analysis. Cardio­vascular disease and diabetes were the most prevalent comorbidities among patients who died during hospital stay.  Paper II:  No gender-related differences in mortality or length of stay was found in this prospective single center observational study. Differences in aspects of treatment were related to differences in site of infection. Men had more often infections in skin and skin-structures, whereas women more often had abdominal infections. Early organ dysfunction asses­sed as SOFA score at admission was a stronger predictor for hospital mortality for women than for men. The discrepancy was related to the SOFA coagulation-sub score.  Paper III: In this nes­ted case-referent study hyperleptinemia at baseline predicted a first-ever sepsis event, even after adjustment for BMI and other cardiovascular risk factors. Hyperleptinemia in the acute sepsis phase was associated with reduced risk of in-hospital death in men, but associated with increased risk of in-hospital   death in women.  Paper IV: In the same matched cohort as in Paper III high baseline levels of MBL predicted a first ever sepsis event. High MBL levels in the acute phase or an increase from baseline to the acute phase associate with increased in-hospital death in women but not in men. Low MBL levels was not identified as a risk for acute sepsis or in-hospital death.Conclusions. Mortality from severe sepsis is high, equally affecting men and women. There are differences in patient characteristics and inflammatory markers, which associate with in-hospital mortality differentially in men and women. Aspects of gender should be mandatory, and genetic analysis are desired in future sepsis research.