Skip to main content

Differential diagnosis of bacterial from candidal bloodstream infections in ICU patients: the role of procalcitonin


Early differentiation of bacterial from candidal bloodstream infections (BSIs) in the presence of sepsis or septic shock is crucial because of the need for appropriate treatment initiation. Clinical data, although limited, suggest a role for procalcitonin (PCT) [13]. The aim of this study was to investigate a possible association between the etiology of BSIs and the serum PCT levels.


ICU patients with clinical and laboratory signs of sepsis or septic shock, with documented BSIs and with both serum PCT and CRP measurements on the day of the positive blood sample (±1 day), were included. Illness severity was assessed by SOFA score on both admission and BSI day. Demographic, clinical, and laboratory data including PCT and CRP levels, as well as the white blood cell (WBC) count on the day of the BSI were recorded. PCT was measured by an electrochemiluminescence analyzer and CRP by the tholosimetric method (Roche, Switzerland).


A total of 64 ICU patients (mean age 58 ± 18 years, 39 males) with BSIs were included. SOFA sore was 9 ± 4 on ICU admission and 8 ± 4 on the day of BSI. In 30 of these patients Candida spp. were isolated in blood culture (candidemia group) whereas the remaining 34 had a bacterial etiology of BSI (bacteremia group). Serum PCT concentrations remained within normal ranges in most patients with candidemia whereas a wide range was observed in patients with bacteremia. Mean values of PCT and CRP levels were higher in the bacterial than in the candidemia BSI group: 18.5 ± 33.2 versus 0.73 ± 1.40 ng/ml, P < 0.001 and 17.7 ± 10.3 versus 8.9 ± 8.0 mg/dl, P = 0.001, respectively. There was a significant difference in WBC count between the two groups: 19,460 ± 10.174 versus 11,000 ± 5,440, P < 0.001 for the bacteremia and candidemia BSI group, respectively. A ROC curve analysis of the predictive ability of PCT showed an AUC of 0.79 (P < 0.001). When a cutoff point of 0.40 ng/ml was selected using Youden's J statistic, a low value of PCT had in our sample a negative predictive value of 0.76 and a likelihood ratio (negative) of 0.30.\


A low serum PCT value could be considered as a diagnostic marker in distinguishing between BSIs of candidal or bacterial origin in ICU patients with varying severity of sepsis.


  1. Martini A, et al: J Infect. 2010, 60: 425-10.1016/j.jinf.2010.03.003.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Petrikkos GL, et al: Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2005, 24: 272-10.1007/s10096-005-1312-z.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Charles PE, et al: Intensive Care Med. 2006, 32: 1577-10.1007/s00134-006-0306-3.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Angelopoulos, E., Perivolioti, E., Kokkoris, S. et al. Differential diagnosis of bacterial from candidal bloodstream infections in ICU patients: the role of procalcitonin. Crit Care 19 (Suppl 1), P68 (2015).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI:


  • White Blood Cell
  • Septic Shock
  • Procalcitonin
  • Early Differentiation
  • Sofa Score