Objective: The Natural Killer cells (NK) are an important part of non-specific cellular-mediated and antitumoral immunity. The goal of this review is to recapitulate data published over NK activity during the perioperative period and the influence of anaesthesia, analgesia and modulation of sympathetic system.
Data sources: Pubmed/Medline database.
Study selection and data extraction: Keywords-based selection, without limit of date: fundamental studies, randomized controlled trials and non-randomized comparative studies.
Data synthesis: In human as in animal studies, an important correlation exists between NK activity and prognosis linked to the development of metastasis. The great depression of this cytotoxicity during the perioperative period could be able to compromise host defenses. The influence of anaesthetics and analgesics is important. The effects of the opioids, the agonists and the antagonists of the sympathetic nervous system, the prostaglandins, the NSAIDs, the ketamine, the hypnotics and the locoregional anaesthesia are systematically reviewed. The limits of experimental model presented are covered.
Conclusion: The effects of anaesthetic/analgesic drugs and techniques, the consequences of sympathomodulation on NK activity are numerous and sometimes opposite. It is important for the anaesthesiologist to keep in mind that the long term consequences of his techniques on the patients' outcome must be clarified.