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Disease Markers
Volume 34, Issue 3, Pages 211-218

Diagnostic Use of Serum Ferritin Levels to Differentiate Infectious and Noninfectious Diseases in Patients with Fever of Unknown Origin

Seong Eun Kim,1 Uh Jin Kim,1 Mi Ok Jang,1 Seung Ji Kang,1 Hee Chang Jang,1 Sook In Jung,1 Shin Seok Lee,2 and Kyung Hwa Park1

1Department of Infectious Disease, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwang Ju, Korea
2Department of Rheumatology, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwang Ju, Korea

Received 14 January 2013; Accepted 14 January 2013

Copyright © 2013 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. 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.


INTRODUCTION: In this study, we determined whether serum ferritin levels could be used to differentiate between fever of unknown origin (FUO) caused by infectious and noninfectious diseases.

METHODS: FUO patients were hospitalized at Chonnam National University Hospital between January, 2005 and December, 2011. According to the final diagnoses, five causes were identified, including infectious diseases, hematologic diseases, noninfectious inflammatory diseases, miscellaneous and undiagnosed.

RESULTS: Of the 77 patients, 11 were caused by infectious diseases, 13 by hematologic diseases, 20 by noninfectious inflammatory diseases, 8 by miscellaneous diseases, and 25 were undiagnosed. The median serum ferritin levels in infectious diseases was lower than those in hematologic diseases and (median (interquartile range) of 282.4 (149.0–951.8) ng/mL for the infectious disease group, 1818.2 (485.4–4789.5) ng/mL for the hematologic disease group, and 563.7 (399.6–1927.2) ng/mL for the noninfectious inflammatory disease group, p = 0.048, Kruskal–Wallis test). By comparison using the Mann–Whitney test, statistically significant differences were found only between the infectious disease and hematologic disease groups (p = 0.049) and between the infectious disease and groups (p = 0.04).

CONCLUSION: An optimal cutoff value of serum ferritin levels to predict FUO caused by a noninfectious disease (hematologic diseases, noninfectious inflammatory diseases) was established as 561 ng/mL.