A neutrophil subset defined by intracellular olfactomedin 4 is associated with mortality in sepsis

Kirsten N. Kangelaris, Regina Clemens, Xiaohui Fang, Alejandra Jauregui, Tom Liu, Kathryn Vessel, Thomas Deiss, Pratik Sinha, Aleksandra Leligdowicz, Kathleen D. Liu, Hanjing Zhuo, Matthew N. Alder, Hector R. Wong, Carolyn S. Calfee, Clifford Lowell, Michael A. Matthay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Sepsis is a heterogeneous syndrome clinically and biologically, but biomarkers of distinct host response pathways for early prognostic information and testing targeted treatments are lacking. Olfactomedin 4 (OLFM4), a matrix glycoprotein of neutrophil-specific granules, defines a distinct neutrophil subset that may be an independent risk factor for poor outcomes in sepsis. We hypothesized that increased percentage of OLFM4+ neutrophils on sepsis presentation would be associated with mortality. In a single-center, prospective cohort study, we enrolled adults admitted to an academic medical center from the emergency department (ED) with suspected sepsis [identified by 2 or greater systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria and antibiotic receipt] from March 2016 through December 2017, followed by sepsis adjudication according to Sepsis-3. We collected 200mL of whole blood within 24h of admission and stained for the neutrophil surface marker CD66b followed by intracellular staining for OLFM4 quantitated by flow cytometry. The predictors for 60-day mortality were 1) percentage of OLFM4+ neutrophils and 2) OLFM4+ neutrophils at a cut point of ≥37.6% determined by the Youden Index. Of 120 enrolled patients with suspected sepsis, 97 had sepsis and 23 had nonsepsis SIRS. The mean percentage of OLFM4+ neutrophils was significantly increased in both sepsis and nonsepsis SIRS patients who died (P ≤ 0.01). Among sepsis patients with elevated OLFM4+ (≥37.6%), 56% died, compared with 18% with OLFM4+ <37.6% (P = 0.001). The association between OLFM4+ and mortality withstood adjustment for age, sex, absolute neutrophil count, comorbidities, and standard measures of severity of illness (SOFA score, APACHE III) (P < 0.03). In summary, OLFM4+ neutrophil percentage is independently associated with 60-day mortality in sepsis and may represent a novel measure of the heterogeneity of host response to sepsis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L892-L902
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Biomarkers
  • Critical care
  • Flow cytometry
  • Olfactomedin 4 (OLFM4)
  • Outcomes
  • Sepsis


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