Tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) and interleukin-10 are crucial mediators in post-operative systemic inflammatory response and determine the occurrence of complications after major abdominal surgery

Cytokine. 2007 Jan;37(1):55-61. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2007.02.023. Epub 2007 Apr 10.


Background: The course of serum cytokine levels in patients with postoperative systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) after major abdominal surgery remains currently unclear.

Methods: Blood was sampled pre- and post-operatively and on days 1 and 2 in 40 patients undergoing major abdominal surgery. Concentrations of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha), interleukin (IL) -6, IL-8, and IL-10 were measured by the LINCOplex assay; those of soluble triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells-1 (sTREM-1) by an enzyme immunoassay.

Results: Compared to their pre-operative values, sTREM-1 was elevated on day 2; TNFalpha on day 1; IL-6 and IL-10 post-operatively and on days 1 and 2; and IL-8 post-operatively and on day 1. The duration of operation correlated with TNFalpha and IL-10 at all sampling times, and with IL-6 post-operatively. There were no differences in cytokine concentrations between patients who exhibited post-operative complications and those who did not. IL-10/TNFalpha below 30 was found in all patients with complications (100%) and in 20 patients without complications (64.5%, p: 0.043).

Conclusions: SIRS following major surgery is characterised by complex alterations in cytokine concentrations. The balance between TNFalpha and IL-10 seems to determine the occurrence of post-operative complications.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / surgery*
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-10 / blood*
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Interleukin-8 / blood
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / blood
  • Postoperative Complications / blood*
  • Postoperative Complications / pathology
  • Receptors, Immunologic / blood
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / blood*
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / etiology*
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / pathology
  • Triggering Receptor Expressed on Myeloid Cells-1
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-8
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • TREM1 protein, human
  • Triggering Receptor Expressed on Myeloid Cells-1
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-10