• bacteraemia;
  • HMGB1 protein;
  • lipopolysaccharide-binding protein;
  • macrophage scavenger receptor;
  • procalcitonin


High mobility group-box 1 protein (HMGB1) is a late-onset proinflammatory cytokine. Soluble haemoglobin scavenger receptor (sCD163) is a specific marker of anti-inflammatory macrophages. The study purpose was to relate the levels of these new markers in bactaeremic patients to levels of well-known pro- and anti-inflammatory markers [procalcitonin, lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-binding protein, interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10] and to evaluate the levels in relation to disease severity and aetiology. A total of 110 patients with bacteraemia were included in a prospective manner from the medical department at a large Danish university hospital. Levels of HMGB1 and sCD163 were higher in patients with bacteraemia compared to controls (P < 0·001). HMGB1 correlated with proinflammatory molecules [procalcitonin (PCT)] and traditional infectious parameters [C-reactive proteins (CRP), white blood cells (WBC) and neutrophils], whereas sCD163 correlated with levels of IL-6, IL-10 but not to lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LBP), PCT or CRP. Levels of sCD163 and IL-6 were significantly higher among non-survivors compared to survivors (P < 0·05). Neither HMGB1 nor any of the proinflammatory markers were elevated in fatal cases compared to survivors. There was no statistically significant difference in HMGB1 and sCD163 levels in Gram-negative versus Gram-positive bacteraemia. HMGB1 reflects proinflammatory processes, whereas sCD163 reflects anti-inflammatory processes as judged by correlations with traditional marker molecules. sCD163 and IL-6, but not HMGB1, were prognostic markers in this cohort pointing to an anti-inflammatory predominance in patients with fatal disease outcome.