Advancing age is a strong risk factor for adverse outcomes across multiple disease processes. However, septic surgical and trauma patients are unique in they incur two or more inflammatory insults. The effects of advanced age on sepsis pathophysiology and outcomes remain unclear.
We performed a single center, prospective observational cohort study of Surgical ICU patients with severe sepsis/septic shock. Peripheral blood was collected for genomic, cytokine and biomarker analysis at 0.5, 1, 4, 7, 14, 21 and 28 days after sepsis onset. Based on sensitivity analysis, cohorts were defined as “young” (<55 years) and “aged” (≥55 years). We compared age-defined cohorts to determine differences in patient characteristics, biomarker profiles and clinical outcomes.
The cohort included 173 patients with severe sepsis (n=93; 53.8%) or septic shock (n=80; 46.2%), with a mean age of 60.9 (±14.5) years. Intra-abdominal sepsis was the leading source (n=81; 46.8%), followed by NSTI (n=33, 19.1%) and pneumonia (n=30; 17.3%). Aged patients had a higher comorbidity burden, but were otherwise similar to the young cohort. The aged cohort had a higher severity of early physiologic derangement (median APACHE II, 23 vs 18, p=0.002), greater incidence of multiple organ failure (MOF; 64.3% vs 40.4%, p=0.006), and hospital mortality (15.9% vs 2.1%, p=0.016). Six-month mortality was significantly higher in the aged as compared to young cohort (31% vs 9%, p=0.003). Aged septic patients biomarker trajectories suggestive of persistent immunosuppression (Absolute lymphocyte count, sPDL-1) and catabolism (Urine 3MH-Cr ratio, IGF, IGF1BP3, albumin) out to 28 days after sepsis.
Aged, critically ill surgical patients have greater organ dysfunction, and incidence of adverse clinical outcomes after sepsis. Biomarker profiles suggest an immunophenotype of persistent immunosuppression and catabolism. Advanced age may necessitate novel therapeutic strategies to promote multi-system organ recovery and improve survival after sepsis.
Level of Evidence
Level II, prognostic