Interleukin-6 as a diagnostic marker for infection in critically ill patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis



      The ability of blood levels of interleukin (IL)-6 to differentiate between infection and non-infection in critically ill patients with suspected infection is unclear. We assessed the diagnostic accuracy of serum IL-6 levels for the diagnosis of infection in critically ill patients.


      We systematically searched the PubMed, MEDLINE, Cochrane Resister of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, CINAHL, and Igaku Chuo Zasshi databases for studies published from 1986 to August 2016 that evaluated the accuracy of IL-6 levels for the diagnosis of infection. We constructed 2 × 2 tables and calculated summary estimates of sensitivity and specificity using a bivariate random-effects model.


      The literature search identified 775 articles, six of which with a total of 527 patients were included according to the predefined criteria. The pooled sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic odds ratio were 0.73 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.61–0.82), 0.76 (95% CI, 0.61–0.87), and 2.31 (95% CI, 1.20–3.48), respectively. The area under the curve (AUC) of the summary receiver operator characteristic (SROC) curve was 0.81 (95% CI, 0.78–0.85). In the secondary analysis of two studies with a total of 263 adult critically ill patients with organ dysfunction, the pooled sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic odds ratio were 0.81 (95% CI, 0.75–0.86), 0.77 (95% CI, 0.67–0.84), and 2.87 (95% CI 2.15–3.60), respectively.


      Blood levels of IL-6 have a moderate diagnostic value and a potential clinical utility to differentiate infection in critically ill patients with suspected infection.


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