Suppression of natural killer-cell function in humans following thermal and traumatic injury

Journal of Clinical Immunology
B A BlazarJ A Mannick


Depressed cell-mediated and humoral immune functions have been reported to occur following severe thermal and traumatic injury. In this study we have questioned whether another immune function, natural killing (NK), is also disturbed in these injured patients. Twenty-two thermally injured patients with burns ranging from 5 to 75% of the total body surface area and 15 traumatically injured patients with injury severity scores ranging from 9 to 56 were followed postinjury and compared to 29 age-matched controls. NK activity was measured as the percentage cytotoxicity in chromium-51 release assays with K562 target cells. The more severely burned patients had significantly depressed NK activity for the 40-day period following injury that remained reduced for the duration of the study. Patients with lesser burns had reduced NK-cell function for the initial 10-day period postburn that returned slowly to the normal range. Traumatically injured patients had depressed NK-cell function during the 3- to 6-day period postinjury. The percentage of cells bearing phenotypic markers for the groups in which NK cells are found was either normal or elevated in these patients. A correlation was found between NK activity and interleukin 2 generatio...Continue Reading


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