Sepsis is defined as a life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. In 2017, almost 50 million cases of sepsis were recorded worldwide and 11 million sepsis-related deaths were reported. Therefore, sepsis is the focus of intense research to better understand the complexities of sepsis response, particularly the twin underlying concepts of an initial hyper-immune response and a counter-immunological state of immunosuppression triggered by an invading pathogen. Diagnosis of sepsis remains a significant challenge. Prompt diagnosis is essential so that treatment can be instigated as early as possible to ensure the best outcome, as delay in treatment is associated with higher mortality. In order to address this diagnostic problem, use of a panel of biomarkers has been proposed as, due to the complexity of the sepsis response, no single marker is sufficient. This review provides background on the current understanding of sepsis in terms of its epidemiology, the evolution of the definition of sepsis, pathobiology and diagnosis and management. Candidate biomarkers of interest and how current and developing point-of-care testing approaches could be used to measure such biomarkers is discussed.
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