Why I Care About Another Biomarker for Pancreatitis Severity

PR Farrell et al. J Pediatr 2021; 238: 33-41. Open Access: Cytokine Profile Elevations on Admission Can Determine Risks of Severe Acute Pancreatitis in Children

Methods: In this single center pediatric study, interleukin 6 (IL -6), monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) and CRP were obtained within 48 hours of admission in 66 subjects (20 controls, 36 with mild acute pancreatitis (AP), and 10 with severe AP) in a derivation cohort. and then in a validation cohort with 35 subjects (10 controls, 19 mild AP and 6 severe AP)

Key findings:

  • In both the derivation and vaildation cohorts, IL-6 (P = 0.02, P= 0.02 respectively) and MCP-1 (P= 0.02, P = .007) were found to differentiate mild acute pancreatitis from severe acute pancreatitis.
  • CRP values were obtained from 53 of the subjects, revealing a strong association between elevated CRP values and progression to severe disease (P < .0001). CRP were stratifed into 3 distinct groups, <0.4 mg/dL, 0.4-2.5 mg/dL, and >2.5 mg/dL

The discussion notes a few points:

  1. “BUN as part of a standard initial clinical biochemical evaluation on admission, as well as the response of the patient’s BUN to fluid resuscitation can help predict disease severity with high specificity and a high negative predictive value which can help to determine those patients least likely to progress to severe disease”
  2. “There is adult literature showing the benefit of placing patients at highest risk of progression to severe disease on Cox-2 inhibitors and monitoring, among other measures, the response of IL-6. Patients who received the investigational drug had significantly lower levels of IL-6, and the therapy was associated with an almost 50% reduction in the progression of patients to severe disease.”

My take: In clinical practice, both elevated CRP and BUN are associated with a higher risk of progression to severe pancreatitis. The reason why I was interested in this study was the potential for targeting IL-6 to improve outcomes.

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