Limulus amebocyte lysate assay for detection of endotoxin in patients with sepsis syndrome

David W. Bates, Jeffrey Parsonnet, Paul A. Ketchum, Elizabeth B. Miller, Thomas J. Novitsky, Kenneth Sands, Patricia L. Hibberd, Paul S. Graman, Paul N. Lanken, J. Sanford Schwartz, Katherine Kahn, David R. Snydman, Richard Moore, Edgar Black

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59 Scopus citations


Clinical predictions alone are insufficiently accurate to identify patients with specific types of bloodstream infection; laboratory assays might improve such predictions. Therefore, we performed a prospective cohort study of 356 episodes of sepsis syndrome and did Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) assays for endotoxin. The main outcome measures were bacteremia and infection due to gram-negative organisms; other types of infection were secondary outcomes. Assays were defined as positive if the result was ≤0.4 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay units per milliliter. There were positive assays in 119 (33%) of 356 episodes. Assay positivity correlated with the presence of fungal bloodstream infection (P < .003) but correlated negatively with the presence of gram-negative organisms in the bloodstream (P = .04). A trend toward higher rates of mortality in the LAL assay-positive episodes was no longer present after adjusting for severity. Thus, results of LAL assay did not correlate with the presence of bacteremia due to gram-negative organisms or with mortality after adjusting for severity but did correlate with the presence of fungal bloodstream infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-591
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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