Neutrophil-Lymphocyte Ratio as a Potential Biomarker for Delirium in the Intensive Care Unit

Chai Lee Seo, Jin Young Park, Jaesub Park, Hesun Erin Kim, Jaehwa Cho, Jeong Ho Seok, Jae Jin Kim, Cheung Soo Shin, Jooyoung Oh

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Recognition and early detection of delirium in the intensive care unit (ICU) is essential to improve ICU outcomes. To date, neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio (NLR), one of inflammatory markers, has been proposed as a potential biomarker for brain disorders related to neuroinflammation. This study aimed to investigate whether NLR could be utilized in early detection of delirium in the ICU. Methods: Of 10,144 patients who admitted to the ICU, 1,112 delirium patients (DE) were included in the current study. To compare among inflammatory markers, NLR, C-reactive protein (CRP), and white blood cell (WBC) counts were obtained: the mean NLR, CRP levels, and WBC counts between the initial day of ICU admission and the day of initial delirium onset within DE were examined. The inflammatory marker of 1,272 non-delirium patients (ND) were also comparatively measured as a supplement. Further comparisons included a subgroup analysis based on delirium subtypes (non-hypoactive vs. hypoactive) or admission types (elective vs. emergent). Results: The NLR and CRP levels in DE increased on the day of delirium onset compared to the initial admission day. ND also showed increased CRP levels on the sixth day (the closest day to average delirium onset day among DE) of ICU admission compared to baseline, while NLR in ND did not show significant difference over time. In further analyses, the CRP level of the non-hypoactive group was more increased than that of the hypoactive group during the delirium onset. NLR, however, was more significantly increased in patients with elective admission than in those with emergent admission. Conclusion: Elevation of NLR was more closely linked to the onset of delirium compared to other inflammatory markers, indicating that NLR may play a role in early detection of delirium.

Original languageEnglish
Article number729421
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov 29

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) (No. 2020R1C1C1007440).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 Seo, Park, Park, Kim, Cho, Seok, Kim, Shin and Oh.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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