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RATIONALE: Sonographic septations are assumed to be important clinical predictors of outcome in pleural infection but the evidence for this is sparse. The inflammatory and fibrinolysis-associated intrapleural pathway(s) leading to septation formation have not been studied in a large cohort of pleural fluid (PF) samples with confirmed pleural infection, matched with ultrasound and clinical outcome data. OBJECTIVES: To assess the presence and severity of septations against baseline PF Plasminogen-Activator Inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) and other inflammatory and fibrinolysis-associated proteins as well as to correlate these with clinically important outcomes. METHODS: We analysed 214 pleural fluid samples from the PILOT study, a prospective observational pleural infection study, for inflammatory and fibrinolysis-associated proteins using the Luminex platform. Multivariate regression analyses were utilised to assess association of pleural biological markers with septation presence and severity (on ultrasound), and clinical outcomes. RESULTS: PF PAI-1 level was the only protein independently associated with septation presence (p=<0.001) and septation severity (p=0.003). PF PAI-1 levels were associated with increased length of stay (LOS) (p=0.048) and increased 12-month mortality (p=0.003). Sonographic septations alone had no relation to clinical outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: In a large and well characterised cohort, this is the first study to associate pleural biological parameters with a validated sonographic septation outcome in pleural infection. PF PAI-1 is the first biomarker to demonstrate an independent association with mortality. While PF PAI-1 plays an integral role in driving septation formation, septations themselves are not associated with clinically important outcomes. These novel findings now require prospective validation.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Respir Crit Care Med

Publication Date



empyema, fibrinolysis, pleural infection, septations