Metabolic profiles of severely sick patients could be used to predict their risk of death in the intensive care unit (ICU). That’s according to new data being presented at the American Thoracic Society’s annual meeting held in Philadelphia this week.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School’s Angela J. Rogers, M.D., and her colleagues show in a study involving 90 ICU patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome, sepsis, or sepsis/acute respiratory distress syndrome that the 30 who died before day 28 differentially expressed 59 metabolites, compared with survivors.

Dr. Rogers and her team later found that 34 of those metabolites were associated with death in a second cohort of 150 patients with sepsis.

Then, using statistics to create a predictive model, the researchers identified a network including four metabolites—sucrose, methionine, beta-hydroxyisovalerate amino acids, and mannose from the carbohydrate pathway and arginine—that were closely associated with mortality in both populations studied.

“Because these results replicate well in two populations, it suggests that measuring plasma metabolites may be an important tool for identifying patients at highest risk for death in the ICU,” Dr. Rogers said in a statement.

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