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Features of Postoperative Immune Suppression Are Reversible With Interferon Gamma and Independent of Interleukin-6 Pathways

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Objective:

The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of interleukin (IL)-6 pathways in postoperative immune suppression and to assess the reversibility of this phenomenon.Background:

The postoperative period is characterized by increased IL-6 production and features of immune suppression. In vitro, IL-6 mediates anti-inflammatory effects through inhibition of interferon gamma (IFN-γ) pathways. The significance of the immunomodulatory effects of IL-6 in the clinical setting of postoperative immune suppression remains unclear.
Methods:

Patients over 45 years old undergoing elective surgery, involving the gastrointestinal tract, were recruited. IL-6 levels were assayed using an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay preoperatively, and at 24 and 48 hours. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy volunteers were cultured in perioperative serum and CD14+Human Leukocyte Antigen-DR (HLA-DR) [monocyte HLA-DR (mHLA-DR)] geometric mean florescent intensity was measured in the presence and absence of IL-6 neutralizing antibody and recombinant IFN-γ.
Results:

Of the 108 patients, 41 developed a postoperative infection. The IL-6 levels increased 19-fold from the preoperative sample to 24 hours postoperatively (P < 0.0001). Higher IL-6 levels at 24 (P = 0.0002) and 48 hours (P = 0.003) were associated with subsequent postoperative infectious complications. mHLA-DR mean florescent intensity fell when healthy peripheral blood mononuclear cells were cultured with postoperative serum compared with preoperative serum (P = 0.008). This decrease was prevented by the presence of IFN-γ in the culture media, but not by the presence of IL-6-neutralizing antibody.
Conclusions:

IL-6 levels increase after a major surgery and are associated with an increased susceptibility to postoperative infections. Serum obtained from postoperative patients induces an immunosuppressive response, reflected in reduced mHLA-DR levels, mediated through IL-6 independent pathways and is reversible with IFN-γ. These data may have therapeutic implications for the prevention of infection in patients undergoing major surgery.
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Keywords: IL-6; gastrointestinal surgery; immunoparalysis; interferon gamma

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Adult Critical Care Unit, Royal London Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK, Centre for Translational Medicine & Therapeutics, William Harvey Research Institute Queen Mary University of London, London, UK 2: Adult Critical Care Unit, Royal London Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK, Centre for Translational Medicine & Therapeutics, William Harvey Research Institute Queen Mary University of London, London, UK, Centre for Trauma Sciences, Blizard Institute, Barts & the London School of Medicine & Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK 3: Centre for Translational Medicine & Therapeutics, William Harvey Research Institute Queen Mary University of London, London, UK 4: Department of Internal Medicine, Attikon University Hospital, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of Medicine, Athens, Greece.

Publication date: August 1, 2016

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