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International Journal of Pediatrics
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 763191, 6 pages
Review Article

Flow Cytometry in the Detection of Neonatal Sepsis

Department of Neonatology, Children’s Hospital, University Hospital of RWTH Aachen, Pauwelsstraße 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany

Received 12 October 2012; Revised 10 January 2013; Accepted 11 January 2013

Academic Editor: Khalid N. Haque

Copyright © 2013 Volker N. Umlauf et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Neonatal sepsis remains a burden problem by showing minimal initial symptoms of subtle character, nonspecific manifestation, and diagnostic pitfalls. The clinical course can be fulminant and fatal if treatment is not commenced promptly. It is therefore crucial to establish early diagnosis and initiate adequate therapy. Besides clinical symptoms, the most reliable laboratory markers in establishing diagnosis is currently the combined measurement of CRP and a cytokine (IL-6 and IL-8). Due to their different kinetics, a diagnostic gap might occur and thus withholding antimicrobial therapy in clinical suspicion of infection is not acceptable. We therefore need parameters which unerringly differentiate between infants in need for antimicrobial therapy and those who are not. Flow cytometry promises to be a useful tool in this field, allowing the determination of different cellular, dissolved, and functional pathophysiological components of sepsis. Despite technical and methodical advances in flow cytometry, its use in clinical routine is still limited. Advantages and disadvantages of promising new parameters in diagnosis of sepsis performed by flow cytometry, particularly CD64, HLA-DR, and apoptosis, are reviewed here. The necessity of tests to be used as an “ideal” parameter is presented.