Biomarker Assessment of a High-Risk, Data-Driven Pediatric Sepsis Phenotype Characterized by Persistent Hypoxemia, Encephalopathy, and Shock

Mihir R. Atreya*, Tellen D. Bennett, Alon Geva, E. Vincent S. Faustino, Colin M. Rogerson, Riad Lutfi, Natalie Z. Cvijanovich, Michael T. Bigham, Jeffrey Nowak, Adam J. Schwarz, Torrey Baines, Bereketeab Haileselassie, Neal J. Thomas, Yuan Luo, L. Nelson Sanchez-Pinto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Identification of children with sepsis-associated multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) at risk for poor outcomes remains a challenge. We sought to the determine reproducibility of the data-driven "persistent hypoxemia, encephalopathy, and shock" (PHES) phenotype and determine its association with inflammatory and endothelial biomarkers, as well as biomarker-based pediatric risk strata. DESIGN: We retrained and validated a random forest classifier using organ dysfunction subscores in the 2012-2018 electronic health record (EHR) dataset used to derive the PHES phenotype. We used this classifier to assign phenotype membership in a test set consisting of prospectively (2003-2023) enrolled pediatric septic shock patients. We compared profiles of the PERSEVERE family of biomarkers among those with and without the PHES phenotype and determined the association with established biomarker-based mortality and MODS risk strata. SETTING: Twenty-five PICUs across the United States. PATIENTS: EHR data from 15,246 critically ill patients with sepsis-associated MODS split into derivation and validation sets and 1,270 pediatric septic shock patients in the test set of whom 615 had complete biomarker data. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: The area under the receiver operator characteristic curve of the modified classifier to predict PHES phenotype membership was 0.91 (95% CI, 0.90-0.92) in the EHR validation set. In the test set, PHES phenotype membership was associated with both increased adjusted odds of complicated course (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 4.1; 95% CI, 3.2-5.4) and 28-day mortality (aOR of 4.8; 95% CI, 3.11-7.25) after controlling for age, severity of illness, and immunocompromised status. Patients belonging to the PHES phenotype were characterized by greater degree of systemic inflammation and endothelial activation, and were more likely to be stratified as high risk based on PERSEVERE biomarkers predictive of death and persistent MODS. CONCLUSIONS: The PHES trajectory-based phenotype is reproducible, independently associated with poor clinical outcomes, and overlapped with higher risk strata based on prospectively validated biomarker approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-517
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2024


  • biomarkers
  • critical care
  • endothelial dysfunction
  • multiple organ dysfunction syndrome
  • precision medicine
  • sepsis
  • systemic inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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