BSI refers to the invasion of various pathogenic microorganisms (bacteria or fungi) into the bloodstream and is one of the serious systemic infectious diseases(31). During the next two decades, the percentage of Gram-positive bacteria BSI has increased(32), but Gram-negative bacteria still account for about 50%(33), and mainly Escherichia coli(34, 35). Patients with malignant tumors often require surgery, high-dose chemoradiotherapy, antibiotic use, and various invasive procedures, or the malignancy itself, which tend to increase the chance of Escherichia coli infection(9). Blood culture is the gold standard for the diagnosis of Escherichia coli BSI(36), but its diagnosis takes a long time, which will delay clinical and timely treatment. In addition, the distribution of pathogens and the risk factors for BSI are different due to different diseases and tumor types(32, 37, 38). The pancreatic cancer has a high degree of malignancy, a low rate of surgical resection, and a poor prognosis(39, 40). The occurrence of BSI may further increase the difficulty of treatment. Therefore, clinical analysis of risk factors for Escherichia coli BSI in patients with pancreatic cancer is essential for the prevention of potentially high-risk populations and timely and effective treatment of patients.
Our study showed hospitalization days≥7 days, hospitalizations≥2 times, chemotherapy and used two or more antibiotic types, white blood cells, neutrophils, PCT, albumin and pancreatic cancer patients with Escherichia coli BSI was closely related, but multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that only hospital days ≥7 days, chemotherapy, neutrophils were independent risk factors for Escherichia coli BSI. Pancreatic cancer patients have a long-term adjuvant and neoadjuvant treatment, radiation therapy, combined with a variety of serious underlying diseases and multiple surgical treatments(40-42) lead to prolonged hospital stay, and gradually reduce autoimmune function, thus increasing the chance of Escherichia coli BSI. Study have also shown that patients with longer hospital stays are prone to BSI(43). Therefore, the relevant medical staff in the hospital should strictly carry out aseptic operation, regularly disinfect the medical equipment and related wards and departments, and try to shorten the hospitalization time of patients to reduce the incidence of BSI.
In the results of this study, 67.7% of pancreatic cancer patients with Escherichia coli BSI received chemotherapy (Adjuvant or/ and neoadjuvant treatment). Neoadjuvant treatment helps to kill cancer cells and reduce the tumor implantation caused by surgery. Adjuvant therapy can effectively improve the treatment effect and reduce recurrence and metastasis. Adjuvant chemotherapy with gemcitabine is standard care for resected pancreatic cancer(44), not only delayed recurrence, but also improved survival compared with surgery alone(45). However, while killing cancer cells, chemotherapy also kills normal immune cells. For instance, the dose-limiting toxicity of gemcitabine is myelosuppression, leading to a decrease in neutrophils and platelets, which reduces the body's immunity. At the same time, chemotherapeutic drugs such as doxorubicin, which can easily damage the intima of the blood vessels(46), leading to partial venous catheterization blockage, causing BSI.
Cancer patients often have infections in other sites, and different types of antibiotics are often used for different infection sites(47). Therefore, the use of two or more antibiotic types was a potential risk factor for Escherichia coli BSI. Studies have shown that, surgery is a kind of trauma to the human body, which will cause the patient's resistance to decline, causing BSI(48). In addition, with the rapid development and popularization of medical technology, various implant operations such as drainage tubes, catheters, central venous catheters, etc., not only play a therapeutic role, but also pose a risk to BSI, therefore, implantation was also an important risk factor(49), but the relationship between surgical and invasive procedures in Escherichia coli BSI was not significant (P>0.05) in our study.
Besides, blood culture diagnosis of pathogens takes a long time and may delay the treatment of the disease. So the other measured clinical indicators can provide timely help for clinical diagnosis and treatment. Studies have also showed the use of white blood cells, neutrophils, CRP, PCT as a reliable indicator of early diagnosis of BSI(50-53). Our study showed that neutrophils>5.5×109/L was independent risk factor for Escherichia coli BSI (P<0.05). Neutrophils are the most abundant white blood cells, accounting for 50%-70% of the total white blood cells, they are the first barrier of the body's defense. When inflammation occurs, neutrophils will penetrate the vascular endothelium then enter the site of inflammation to exert a bactericidal effect. Therefore, neutrophils were significantly increased in the presence of BSI. The total number of white blood cells >7.4×109/L was not significantly correlated with Escherichia coli BSI (P>0.05). This may be due to patients with pancreatic cancer suffer from frequent chemoradiotherapy, which inhibits bone marrow function(41, 44), resulting in a decrease in the total number of white blood cells. CRP is a non-specific acute phase response protein that is on the rise in early infection(52). There was no significant difference between CRP and Escherichia coli BSI in this study. Studies have pointed out that PCT is very low in normal humans, but when bacterial infection occurs, PCT levels increase significantly, which is an effective indicator of whether it is a bacterial infection(53). Therefore, the specificity of PCT is higher than that of CRP, but the sensitivity is lower than that of CRP. As shown herein, PCT is a potential risk factor for Escherichia coli BSI.
Albumin and prealbumin can be used as monitoring indicators of nutrients in the body. When the nutritional status of patients is poor, the immune function of the body decreases, and albumin and prealbumin decrease accordingly(54). In the quantitative analysis, albumin and prealbumin in the infection group were significantly lower than those in the non-infection group, indicating that patients with pancreatic cancer were prone to Escherichia coli BSI when their nutritional status is poor. This study clearly confirmed the relationship between nutritional status and bloodstream infection in patients with pancreatic cancer.
In our study, the proportion of ESBL produced by Escherichia coli was about 50%, which was lower than that reported in other studies(55, 56). The resistance rate of ceftriaxone was significantly higher than that of ceftazidime, which may be related to the main cefotaxime (CTX) type of ESBL in this region. Carbapenems, Cephamycin and Piperacillin/tazobactam can be used as the first choice for empirical use, but doctors should adjust the drug according to the drug susceptibility results of clinical microbiology to reduce the occurrence of special and restricted antibiotic resistance.
However, this study also has some limitations. Although the data of eight-year pancreatic cancer patients with Escherichia coli BSI were collected, the number of cases is still small. It is a single-center study, which can be combined for pancreatic cancer in North China. The diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer patients with Escherichia coli BSI need further multi-center research to promote its application.