Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

PurposeThere is limited knowledge on how the source of infection impacts the host response to sepsis. We aimed to compare the host response in sepsis patients with a single, known source at admission (MethodsFrom the molecular diagnosis and risk stratification of sepsis (MARS) prospective cohort, we measured 16 plasma host response biomarkers reflective of key host response pathways in 621 sepsis patients. In a subgroup (n = 335), blood leukocyte transcriptomes were compared between the sources. Differences in clinical patient profiles and survival were compared in the whole sepsis cohort (n = 2019).ResultsThe plasma biomarker cohort was categorized into sepsis originating from the respiratory tract (n = 334, 53.8%), abdomen (n = 159, 25.6%), urinary tract (n = 44, 7.1%), cardiovascular (n = 41, 6.6%), central nervous system (CNS) (n = 18, 2.9%), or skin (n = 25, 4%). This analysis revealed stronger inflammatory and cytokine responses, loss of vascular integrity and coagulation activation in abdominal sepsis relative to respiratory. Endothelial cell activation was prominent in urinary, cardiovascular and skin infections, while CNS infection was associated with the least host response aberrations. The leukocyte transcriptional response showed the largest overlap between abdominal and pulmonary infections (76% in common); notable differences between the sources were detected regarding hemostasis, cytokine signaling, innate and adaptive immune, and metabolic transcriptional pathways. After adjustment for confounders, the source of infection remained an independent contributor to 30-day mortality (unadjusted p = 0.001, adjusted p = 0.028).ConclusionSepsis heterogeneity is partly explained by source-specific host response dysregulations and should be considered when selecting patients for trials testing immune modulatory drugs.

Original publication





Intensive care medicine

Publication Date





92 - 102


Center for Experimental and Molecular Medicine, Amsterdam University Medical Centers, Location Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Room T1.240, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


MARS consortium, Humans, Sepsis, Critical Illness, Cohort Studies, Prospective Studies, Intensive Care Units, Biomarkers