Hypothermia induces T-cell production of immunosuppressive cytokines

J Surg Res. 2001 Oct;100(2):150-3. doi: 10.1006/jsre.2001.6230.


Background: Hypothermia is associated with increased postoperative infectious complications. We hypothesized that hypothermia suppresses the inflammatory response by altering T-cell cytokine production from a proinflammatory to an antiinflammatory profile, thus explaining the increased susceptibility to infectious complications associated with perioperative hypothermia.

Methods: Forty rats were randomized to either a Hypothermia (30 degrees C) or Control (38 degrees C) group. Blood samples taken at baseline and after 8 h of thermoregulation were stimulated with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate and ionomycin. Interleukin (IL)-2 receptor expression and intracellular IL-10 production were measured using monoclonal antibodies and flow cytometry in CD4 and CD8 T cells. Differences in IL-10 production and IL-2 receptor expression for stimulated samples in the Hypothermia and Control groups were compared.

Results: Stimulated CD4 cells demonstrated an antiinflammatory cytokine expression profile after hypothermia. Intracellular IL-10 production increased in the Hypothermia group but remained the same in the Control group (% change = 40 [3,87] and 2 [-36,26], respectively; P = 0.043). The increase in IL-2 receptor expression observed in the control group was suppressed after hypothermia (% change = 12[8,30] and 1 [-3,13], respectively; P = 0.026). We observed a greater increase in IL-10 production by CD8 cells from hypothermic animals than in those from control animals (% change = 41 [-8,90] and -4 [-40,5], respectively; P = 0.019). CD8 IL-2 receptor expression in hypothermic animals was similar to that of control animals (% change = 23 [-7,37] vs 25 [2,80], respectively; P = 0.32).

Conclusions: Hypothermia induced an antiinflammatory T-cell cytokine profile.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Hypothermia / immunology*
  • Interleukin-10 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-2 / immunology*
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / immunology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology


  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-10