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Serum C reactive protein (CRP) is generally elevated by infection. We encountered two patients with severe bacterial infections without increases in CRP. Patient 1: A 67-year-old man developed thoracic empyema by Escherichia coli and Streptococcus intermedius. His body temperature was 36.6°C, his leukocyte count was elevated (9960/μl) and he was negative for CRP (0.01 mg/dl). Despite antibiotic treatment, he died of respiratory failure. Patient 2: A 56-year-old woman developed multiple subcutaneous abscesses by Staphylococcus aureus. She had rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for 30 years and was treated with sodium aurothiomalate. Her body temperature was 37.4°C, and leukocyte count (5600/μl) and CRP (0.05 mg/dl) were not elevated. She recovered with antibiotics. Neither patient had a past history of severe bacterial infection.
Since serum CRP is mainly controlled by interleukin (IL)-6,1 the lack of IL-6 function was suggested. Serum IL-6 was not detected by ELISA in either patient, although it is known to increase with severe infection.2 ,3 However, IL-6 production from peripheral blood monocytes with/without lipopolysaccharide stimulation was similar between Patient 1 and healthy controls (data not shown). Soluble IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) and IL-6 signal transducer (IL-6ST) serum levels were also …