Elevated ferritin, mediated by IL-18 is associated with systemic inflammation and mortality in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)

Puja Mehta, Romit J Samanta, Katherine Wick, Rebecca C Coll, Thea Mawhinney, Patrick G McAleavey, Andrew J Boyle, John Conlon, Manu Shankar-Hari, Angela Rogers, Carolyn S Calfee, Michael A Matthay, Charlotte Summers, Rachel Clare Chambers, Daniel Francis McAuley, Cecilia M O'Kane*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Inflammatory subphenotypes have been identified in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Hyperferritinaemia in sepsis is associated with hyperinflammation, worse clinical outcomes, and may predict benefit with immunomodulation. Our aim was to determine if raised ferritin identified a subphenotype in patients with ARDS.

Baseline plasma ferritin concentrations were measured in patients with ARDS from two randomised controlled trials of simvastatin (Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibition with Simvastatin in Acute Lung Injury to Reduce Pulmonary Dysfunction-2 (HARP-2); discovery cohort, UK) and neuromuscular blockade (ROSE; validation cohort, USA). Results were analysed using a logistic regression model with restricted cubic splines, to determine the ferritin threshold associated with 28-day mortality.

Ferritin was measured in 511 patients from HARP-2 (95% of patients enrolled) and 847 patients (84% of patients enrolled) from ROSE. Ferritin was consistently associated with 28-day mortality in both studies and following a meta-analysis, a log-fold increase in ferritin was associated with an OR 1.71 (95% CI 1.01 to 2.90) for 28-day mortality. Patients with ferritin >1380 ng/mL (HARP-2 28%, ROSE 24%) had a significantly higher 28-day mortality and fewer ventilator-free days in both studies. Mediation analysis, including confounders (acute physiology and chronic health evaluation-II score and ARDS aetiology) demonstrated a statistically significant contribution of interleukin (IL)-18 as an intermediate pathway between ferritin and mortality.

Ferritin is a clinically useful biomarker in ARDS and is associated with worse patient outcomes. These results provide support for prospective interventional trials of immunomodulatory agents targeting IL-18 in this hyperferritinaemic subgroup of patients with ARDS.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Early online date26 Dec 2023
Publication statusEarly online date - 26 Dec 2023


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