An Unbalanced Inflammatory Cytokine Response Is Not Associated With Mortality Following Sepsis: A Prospective Cohort Study

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Abstract

Objective:

The prevailing theory of host response during sepsis states that an excessive production of pro-inflammatory mediators causes early deaths, whereas a predominantly anti-inflammatory response may lead to immunosuppression, secondary infection, and late deaths. We assessed inflammatory (im)balance by measuring pro-inflammatory interleukin-6 and anti-inflammatory interleukin-10 during three distinct time periods after sepsis, and assessed its association with mortality.

Design:

Prospective observational cohort.

Setting:

Two tertiary mixed ICUs in The Netherlands.

Patients:

Consecutive patients presenting with severe sepsis or septic shock from 2011 to 2013.

Interventions:

None.

Measurements and Main Results:

We repeatedly measured plasma interleukin-6 and interleukin-10 concentrations using cytometric bead array. Poisson regression was used to analyze the relation between inflammatory markers measured on 1) ICU admission and day 4 mortality, 2) day 4 and day 28 mortality, and 3) ICU discharge and 1-year mortality. Secondary outcome was development of ICU-acquired infections. Among 708 patients, 86 (12%) died within 4 days, 140 (20%) died between days 4 and 28, and an additional 155 (22%) died before 1 year. Interleukin-6 and interleukin-10 levels were both independently associated with mortality, but the balance of this response as modelled by an interleukin-6 and interleukin-10 interaction term was not (relative risk, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.95–1.04 on admission; relative risk, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.98–1.06 on day 4; and relative risk, 1.12; 95% CI, 0.98–1.29 at ICU discharge). However, inflammatory imbalance on day 4 was associated with development of ICU-acquired infections (subdistribution hazard ratio, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.77–0.98).

Conclusions:

Although both interleukin-6 and interleukin-10 productions are associated with death, the balance of these inflammatory mediators does not seem to impact either early, intermediate, or late mortality in patients presenting to the ICU with sepsis.

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