Lymphocyte function in wound healing and following injury

Br J Surg. 1998 Apr;85(4):444-60. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2168.1998.00734.x.


Background: Injury activates a cascade of local and systemic immune responses.

Methods: A literature review was undertaken of lymphocyte function in wound healing and following injury.

Results: Lymphocytes are not required for the initiation of wound healing, but an intact cellular immune response is essential for a normal outcome of tissue repair. Injury affects lymphocyte immune mechanisms leading to generalized immunosuppression which, in turn, increases host susceptibility to infection and sepsis. Although the exact origin of post-traumatic immunosuppression remains unknown, stress hormones and immunosuppressive factors, such as inflammatory cytokines, prostaglandin E2 and nitric oxide, affect lymphocyte function adversely. Post-traumatic impairment of T lymphocyte immune function is reflected in decreased lymphocyte numbers, as well as altered T cell phenotype and activity. Antibody-producing B lymphocytes are variably affected by injury, probably secondary to alterations of T lymphocyte function, as a result of their close interaction with helper T cells. Therapeutic modulation of the host immune response may include non-specific and specific interventions to improve overall defence mechanisms.

Conclusion: Early resuscitation to restore lymphocyte function after injury is important for tissue repair and the prevention of immunosuppression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • B-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Complement System Proteins / immunology
  • Cytokines / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunization, Passive / methods
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Lymphokines / physiology
  • Mice
  • Neutrophils / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Wound Healing / immunology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / immunology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cytokines
  • Lymphokines
  • Complement System Proteins