Early induction of IL-6 in infants undergoing major abdominal surgery

Yechiel Sweed, Prem Puri, Denis J. Reen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Cytokines are immunoregulatory molecules that are important mediators of the host response to stress and infection. Infants and children undergoing major surgery are particularly at risk of developing sepsis and have altered metabolic responses to surgical stress compared to adults. We have investigated the temporal sequence of cytokine responses in six infants (mean age, 11 ± 7.5 months) undergoing pull-through operation for Hirschsprung's disease and correlated them with hemodynamic and biochemical parameters. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) were measured by ELISA preoperatively, intraoperatively (hourly), and 24 and 48 hours postoperatively. IL-6 levels increased significantly in all cases within 2 hours of commencement of the operation (P < .01) and were maximal 24 hours postoperatively. No significant changes in IL-1β levels (mean range, 70 to 110 pg/mL) were seen in these patients. TNF levels were undetectable (<20 pg/mL) throughout the study. Cortisol levels were increased in all patients during operation. Serum C-reactive protein levels were first detected 24 hours postoperatively and continued to increase 48 hours postoperatively. Hemodynamically, heart rate increased during the first 3 hours of operation and correlated with increase in IL-6 levels. Blood pressure and temperature changes did not correlate with cytokine levels. This study identifies IL-6 as the earliest detectable cytokine response associated with major surgery in infants. It also suggests that IL-6 can be unregulated, independently of other cytokines, in response to surgical stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1033-1037
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytokines
  • surgical stress, infants


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