J Infect. 2021 Feb 19:S0163-4453(21)00085-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jinf.2021.01.028. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Acute febrile illnesses (AFIs) represent a major disease burden globally; however, the paucity of reliable, rapid point-of-care testing makes their diagnosis difficult. A simple tool for distinguishing bacterial versus non-bacterial infections would radically improve patient management and reduce indiscriminate antibiotic use. Diagnostic tests based on host biomarkers can play an important role here, and a target product profile (TPP) was developed to guide development.
OBJECTIVES: To qualitatively evaluate host biomarkers that can distinguish bacterial from non-bacterial causes of AFI.
DATA SOURCES: The PubMed database was systematically searched for relevant studies published between 2015 and 2019.
STUDY ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Studies comparing diagnostic performances of host biomarkers in patients with bacterial versus non-bacterial infections were included.
PARTICIPANTS: Studies involving human participants and/or human samples were included.
METHODS: We collected information following PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. A risk of bias assessment was performed, based on a modified QUADAS-2 (Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Score 2).
RESULTS: We identified 1107 publications. Following screening, 55 publications were included, with 265 biomarker entries. Entries mostly comprised protein biomarkers (58.9%), followed by haematological, RNA, and metabolite biomarkers (15.5%, 8.7%, 12.5%). Sensitivity/specificity was reported for 45.7% of biomarker entries. We assessed a high overall risk of bias for most entries (75.8%). In studies with low/medium risk of bias, four biomarker entries tested in blood samples had sensitivity/specificity of more than 0.90/0.80. Only 12 additional biomarker entries were identified with sensitivity/specificity of more than 0.65/0.65.
CONCLUSIONS: Most recently assessed biomarkers represent well-known biomarkers, e.g. C-reactive protein and procalcitonin. Some protein biomarkers with the highest reported performances include a combined biomarker signature (CRP, IP-10, and TRAIL) and human neutrophil lipocalin (HNL). Few new biomarkers are in the pipeline; however, some RNA signatures show promise. Further high-quality studies are needed to confirm these findings.