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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Laboratory Methods to Aid in the Detection of Sepsis. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Mechanism of Procalcitonin (PCT)

PCT is a precursor of the hormone calcitonin and is synthesized physiologically by thyroid C cells. PCT levels are low in homeostatic conditions. In bacterial infections, PCT is synthesized in various extrathyroidal neuroendocrine tissues. Overall, PCT secretion is a component of the inflammatory response that appears to be relatively specific to systemic bacterial infections.
PCT is a 116-amino acid polypeptide precursor to the calcium regulatory hormone calcitonin. It is composed of three sections (see image on the right):
  • The amino terminus (N-ProCT)
  • Immature calcitonin
  • Katacalcin
Synthesis of PCT is regulated by the Calc-1 gene located on chromosome 11. In healthy individuals, production of PCT, and subsequently calcitonin, is restricted to the thyroid C cells.