C-reactive Protein Levels in Plasma and Chronic Venous Ulcer Exudate of Persons Who Inject Drugs: A Pilot Study.

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BACKGROUND: Persons who inject drugs (PWID) in the groin, legs, and/or feet are at high risk for chronic venous ulcers (CVUs). The plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) level is a marker of systemic inflammation.

OBJECTIVE: This pilot study examined CRP levels in plasma and CVU exudate of PWID. The aims were to (1) compare levels of CRP in plasma and exudate; (2) examine if the CRP level in exudate changed over 4 weeks with wound treatment; and (3) examine the relationship of the exudate CRP level with CVU area, CVU age, number of CVUs, and number of comorbidities.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Persons who inject drugs seeking wound care were enrolled in this Institutional Review Board approved prospective, longitudinal, descriptive study. A blood sample was collected on the first visit (week 1); the plasma was then separated. Wound exudate was collected on swabs during the first visit (week 1) and 4 weeks later (week 4). All samples were stored at -80° C. Samples were eluted from swabs using mass spectrometry grade water then aliquoted for CRP analysis.

RESULTS: The participants of the study included 14 PWID (mean age, 62.14 ± 4.52 years; mean number of comorbidities, 5.71 ± 1.90; and mean number of ulcers 2.07 ± 1.07 that were present for a mean of 7.96 ± 11.91 years without healing). C-reactive protein level in plasma was a mean of 6.47 ± 8.56 mg/L, with lower levels found in wound exudate but highly correlated (rho = .925). Exudate CRP levels decreased from week 1 to week 4, and the 2 were highly correlated (rho = .895). Exudate CRP level week 1 was not significantly related to wound area, wound age, number of ulcers, or number of comorbidities.

CONCLUSIONS: Plasma and exudate CRP levels were highly correlated. Exudate CRP levels decreased across time. Future large-scale wound healing studies should examine CRP levels over a longer duration and as they correlate to wound healing.


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