Interleukin-6 Serum Levels Correlate With Severity of Burn Injury but Not With Gender

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Abstract

Gender-specific differences in the outcome of patients with burn injury have been recognized in the past with female patients being at a higher risk of mortality. We hypothesized that early post-burn interleukin-6 (IL-6) cytokine levels may contribute to the different gender-specific outcome. We retrospectively examined 94 burned patients who were treated in the Burn Intensive Care Unit at the University Hospital Aachen. Age, gender, presence of inhalation injury, depth, TBSA, and clinical outcome were documented. Serum samples for IL-6 analysis were collected within 24 hours posttrauma. The relationship between IL-6 levels, gender, survival, and abbreviated burn severity index score was investigated. Male patients (64.9%; n = 61) presented a higher median TBSA (26%) than female patients (20%). The mortality rate of male patients (27.9%; n = 17) and female patients (21.2%; n = 7) was similar. Deceased patients had significant higher TBSA (P = 0.0005) and IL-6 levels (P = 0.0007) than burn survivors. A moderate correlation between IL-6 levels and abbreviated burn severity index score was observed (r = 0.554; P < 0.0001). While TBSA showed a significant influence on IL-6 levels (P = 0.0003), gender did not (P = 0.7395) and inhalation injury indicated a minor influence (P = 0.0780). Only TBSA and age presented a significant influence on mortality (P = 0.0028 and P = 0.0031, respectively). All patients with burn trauma were characterized by elevated IL-6 levels with higher TBSA values resulting in more pronounced levels. Deceased patients had higher initial IL-6 serum levels reflecting higher TBSA and severity. In contrast to other defined trauma mechanisms, gender had no significant influence on postburn IL-6 serum levels and mortality in our patient population.

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