Acute phase reactants and cytokine levels in unilateral community-acquired pneumonia

Respiration. Nov-Dec 2003;70(6):615-22. doi: 10.1159/000075208.


Background: Bacterial infection of the lower respiratory tract initiates an acute inflammatory response. Regulation of the inflammatory response in bacterial pneumonia depends on a complex interaction between immune cells and inflammatory cytokines.

Objectives: We investigated the initial levels of proinflammatory cytokines and acute phase reactants (APR), e.g. C-reactive protein (CRP), upon presentation of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in relation to clinical and laboratory indices of infection.

Methods: We prospectively studied 28 consecutive patients with unilateral CAP. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-6 and IL-8 concentrations were measured by ELISA in both bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and serum.

Results: The concentrations of IL1-beta and IL-6 in BAL fluid were found to be significantly higher in the involved lung than those in either the uninvolved lung (p = 0.008 and p = 0.012, respectively) or serum (p = 0.002 and p = 0.025, respectively). Serum CRP concentrations were increased compared to those in the involved and uninvolved lung in BAL fluid (p = 0.000 and p = 0.000, respectively). In serum and BAL from involved lung, IL-6 concentrations were higher in the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) group than in the non-SIRS group (p < 0.05), whereas CRP, TNF-alpha, IL-1beta and IL-8 concentrations showed no difference between SIRS and non-SIRS. There was no significant correlation between the acute physiology and chronic health evaluation II score and the cytokines.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that the CRP level is higher in the serum than in the BAL fluid in the lung, and that IL-6 is the most important cytokine for the determination of the severity of the disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry*
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis*
  • Community-Acquired Infections / immunology*
  • Cytokines / analysis*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Lung / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia / immunology*
  • Prospective Studies


  • Cytokines
  • C-Reactive Protein