Relationships between causes of fever of unknown origin and inflammatory markers: A multicenter collaborative retrospective study

Toshio Naito, Keito Torikai, Masafumi Mizooka, Fujiko Mitsumoto, Kenji Kanazawa, Shiro Ohno, Hiroyuki Morita, Akira Ukimura, Nobuhiko Mishima, Fumio Otsuka, Yoshio Ohyama, Noriko Nara, Kazunari Murakami, Kouichi Mashiba, Kenichiro Akazawa, Koji Yamamoto, Mika Tanei, Masashi Yamanouchi, Shoichi Senda, Susumu TazumaJun Hayashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Although inflammatory markers, such as the white blood cell (WBC) count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin, are widely used to differentiate causes of fever of unknown origin (FUO), little is known about the usefulness of this approach. We evaluated relationships between the causes of classical FUO and the levels of inflammatory markers. Methods A nationwide retrospective study including 17 hospitals affiliated with the Japanese Society of Hospital General Medicine was conducted. Patients This study included 121 patients ?18 years old diagnosed with “classical FUO” (axillary temperature ?38.0? at least twice over a ?3-week period without elucidation of the cause on three outpatient visits or during three days of hospitalization) between January and December 2011. Results The causative disease was infectious diseases in 28 patients (23.1%), non-infectious inflammatory disease (NIID) in 37 patients (30.6%), malignancy in 13 patients (10.7%), other in 15 patients (12.4%) and unknown in 28 patients (23.1%). The rate of malignancy was significantly higher for a WBC count of <4,000/µL than for a WBC count of 4,000-8,000/µL (p=0.015). Among the patients with a higher WBC count, the rate of FUO due to NIID tended to be higher and the number of unknown cases tended to be lower. All FUO patients with malignancy showed an ESR of >40 mm/h. A normal ESR appeared to constitute powerful evidence for excluding a diagnosis of malignancy. In contrast, the concentrations of both serum CRP and procalcitonin appeared to be unrelated to the causative disease. Conclusion The present study identified inflammatory markers that should be considered in the differential diagnosis of classical FUO, providing useful information for future diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1989-1994
Number of pages6
JournalInternal Medicine
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 15 2015


  • C-reactive protein
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  • Procalcitonin
  • White blood cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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