Background: Leukotriene B4 has been shown to play a role in the systemic inflammatory response after cardiopulmonary bypass in experimental animal models; however, the importance of this mediator in human beings undergoing cardiac operations has not been established.
Methods: The neutrophils of ten patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting with cardiopulmonary bypass were studied for their ability to generate leukotrienes at the time of the induction of anesthesia, the institution of cardiopulmonary bypass, the removal of the aortic crossclamp, at the end of the operation, on admission to the intensive care unit, and on postoperative days 1 and 2
Results: After cardiopulmonary bypass, the generation of chemotactic leukotrienes rose significantly and remained elevated on the first postoperative day compared with prebypass values (prebypass 133.8 +/- 10.7 versus postbypass 192.7 +/- 19.2 [p < 0.05] and first postoperative day 196.6 +/- 13.8 [p < 0.05]). The increases in plasma complement and lactoferrin levels, although significant, were not sustained. In addition to the neutrophil count, the potential leukotriene and oxygen radical produced was significantly increased, and this increase was correlated with postoperative length of stay.
Conclusion: These observations support the laboratory data documenting that the rise in leukotriene generation after cardiopulmonary bypass includes human patients.