Depressed natural killer cell function in thermally injured adults: successful in vivo and in vitro immunomodulation and the role of endotoxin.
Author(s): Bender BS, Winchurch RA, Thupari JN, Proust JJ, Adler WH, Munster AM
Affiliation(s): Clinical Immunology Section, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, MD 21224.
Publication date & source: 1988-01, Clin Exp Immunol., 71(1):120-5.
Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
Natural killer (NK) cells mediate host defense against infections and are regulated by interleukin 2 (IL-2) and other factors. We studied NK cell function in burn patients using a 51Cr release assay with K562 target cells. We found that peripheral blood lymphocytes from burn patients had depressed NK activity (target cell lysis = 22.0 +/- 3.1% vs 39.8 +/- 3.2% in healthy volunteers, P less than 0.001) and also a lower response to IL-2 (28.9 +/- 3.8% vs 53.2 +/- 4.3%, P less than 0.001). Thirteen burn patients were randomly assigned to receive either standard therapy or 5 days of intravenous polymyxin B in addition to standard therapy. After 2 weeks, the patients not receiving polymyxin B had a significant decline in peripheral blood NK activity (P less than 0.01) and response to IL-2 (P less than 0.05), while no decline in NK cell activity was seen in patients who received polymyxin B. Sera from burn patients was found to suppress the NK activity of lymphocytes from healthy adults by 5-75%. After using affinity chromatography to remove endotoxin, the sera from burn patients no longer suppressed NK cell activity. Circulating endotoxin appears to be involved in the suppression of NK activity in burn patients.