Stroke-associated pneumonia is a frequent complication after stroke associated with poor outcome. Dysphagia is a known risk factor for stroke-associated pneumonia but accumulating evidence suggests that stroke induces an immunodepressive state increasing susceptibility for stroke-associated pneumonia. We aimed to confirm that stroke-induced immunodepression syndrome is associated with stroke-associated pneumonia independently from dysphagia by investigating the predictive properties of monocytic HLA-DR expression as a marker of immunodepression as well as biomarkers for inflammation (interleukin-6) and infection (lipopolysaccharide-binding protein). This was a prospective, multicenter study with 11 study sites in Germany and Spain, including 486 patients with acute ischemic stroke. Daily screening for stroke-associated pneumonia, dysphagia and biomarkers was performed. Frequency of stroke-associated pneumonia was 5.2%. Dysphagia and decreased monocytic HLA-DR were independent predictors for stroke-associated pneumonia in multivariable regression analysis. Proportion of pneumonia ranged between 0.9% in the higher monocytic HLA-DR quartile (≥21,876 mAb/cell) and 8.5% in the lower quartile (≤12,369 mAb/cell). In the presence of dysphagia, proportion of pneumonia increased to 5.9% and 18.8%, respectively. Patients without dysphagia and normal monocytic HLA-DR expression had no stroke-associated pneumonia risk. We demonstrate that dysphagia and stroke-induced immunodepression syndrome are independent risk factors for stroke-associated pneumonia. Screening for immunodepression and dysphagia might be useful for identifying patients at high risk for stroke-associated pneumonia.
Keywords: Acute stroke; immunology; infection; inflammation; macrophages.