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Blood biomarkers differentiating viral versus bacterial pneumonia aetiology: a literature review

  • Thomas, Jithin1
  • Pociute, Aiste2
  • Kevalas, Rimantas2, 3
  • Malinauskas, Mantas4
  • Jankauskaite, Lina2, 3, 4
  • 1 University Hospital of Southampton, Southampton, Hampshire, UK , Hampshire (United Kingdom)
  • 2 Medical Academy, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania , Kaunas (Lithuania)
  • 3 Medical Academy, Hospital of Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania , Kaunas (Lithuania)
  • 4 Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania , Kaunas (Lithuania)
Published Article
Italian Journal of Pediatrics
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Jan 09, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s13052-020-0770-3
Springer Nature


Background and objectivesThe goal of this literature review is to compare current studies regarding the accuracy of different serum markers in differentiating viral from bacterial pneumonia in the pediatric population with what is employed in the medical settings at present. Currently there is still a lack of significant research, that would give us evaluation on biomarkers benefits towards getting a definite diagnosis of pneumonia. Finding out the potential of biomarkers to differentiate between viral and bacterial pneumonia is also important because knowing the exact pathogen would prevent irrational use of antibiotics. At present, irrational, broad-spectrum antibiotic use and increasing antibiotic resistance in microorganisms are still one of the greatest challenges in clinical settings. The use of biomarkers in clinical practice would not only facilitate accurate diagnosis, but would also help to reduce the amount of antibiotics overuse.Materials and methodsLiterature search conducted on Medline and Google Scholar using a combination of terms. Articles that were in English and within ten years of the search date were manually sorted according to inclusion and exclusion criteria. Results: Initial search returned n = 13,408. After activating filters, n = 140 were identified of which n = 12 included for literature review.ConclusionsRise or drop in the concentration of a single marker is not accurate enough for predicting viral/bacterial community acquired pneumonia. This is because there is overlapping to a varying extent depending on the marker cut-off values, detection methods, analyses, the desired specificity, and sensitivity. Furthermore, the presence of mixed infection makes almost all markers suboptimal to be used universally. New markers such as MxA1 and HMGB1 gave promising results. However, to replicate a similar testing condition in a clinical environment may not be practical. Another approach is to make use of more than one marker and combine with clinical signs and symptoms. This may not be cost-effective in many clinical settings; nevertheless, in many studies, marker combination greatly improved the predictive power.

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