Suppression of immune system function can occur in influenza patients

Published on January 22, 2013 at 6:38 AM · No Comments

Results indicated that despite high levels of circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines, critically ill children with influenza demonstrated lower TNFα production capacity compared with healthy control subjects. Further, children who died from influenza had markedly lower TNFα production capacity compared with survivors. Patients who were co-infected with influenza and the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus showed the greatest degree of immune suppression.

While the reduced capacity to produce TNFα among the critically ill children compared to healthy subjects was expected, the degree of reduction in capacity was severe enough to be highly predictive of death from the illness.

"The study demonstrates a strong relationship between mortality and reduced innate immune responsiveness in critically ill patients," said Dr. Hall, also a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. "It also demonstrates the feasibility of large-scale immune monitoring of the kind necessary to develop and test therapies for these critically ill children. The identification of potential treatment thresholds is important because strong evidence suggests that innate immune suppression associated with critical illness may be reversible."

Advocating for additional studies, investigators suggest that patient-specific immune monitoring could aid in determining the most effective treatment for these critically ill patients. Therapies that stimulate the immune system may have a significant role in the treatment of high-risk children with severe immune suppression associated with influenza infection.

Source: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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