BACKGROUND--The role of cytokines in the pathogenesis of pneumonia is still poorly understood. In a previous study the diagnostic value of measuring blood concentrations of interleukin 6 and interferon gamma was established. In the present study the value of blood concentrations of interleukin 8, granulocyte-colony stimulating factor, and lactoferrin as markers of bacteraemic pneumonia is evaluated. METHODS--The circulating concentrations of interleukin 8 (IL-8), granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), and lactoferrin were measured in 14 patients with bacteraemic pneumococcal pneumonia and 49 patients with atypical pneumonia or influenza A infection using enzyme immunoassays. RESULTS--Serum G-CSF concentrations were higher in the group with bacteraemic pneumococcal pneumonia, and G-CSF values correlated with the white blood cell count and levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). The levels of IL-8 were higher in the group with bacteraemic pneumococcal pneumonia than the groups with Chlamydia pneumonia, Legionella pneumonia, or influenza A infection, but there was no difference when compared with the group with Mycoplasma pneumonia. A white blood cell count of > 15 x 10(9)/l was highly suggestive of bacteraemic pneumonia. The concentrations of lactoferrin were raised in all groups except those with influenza A infection, but no difference was found between the different aetiological groups. A correlation was found between lactoferrin and white blood cell counts. CONCLUSIONS--Serum G-CSF and IL-8 concentrations are potential markers of bacteraemic pneumonia.
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