Circulating postinjury neutrophils are primed for the release of proinflammatory cytokines

J Trauma. 1999 Jan;46(1):42-8. doi: 10.1097/00005373-199901000-00007.


Background: Postinjury neutrophil (PMN) priming identifies the injured patient at risk for the subsequent development of multiple organ failure (MOF). PMN priming has previously been shown to cause enhanced release of proteases and superoxide. PMNs, however, are a rich source of proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin (IL)-8 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which have been implicated in the development of MOF. PMNs also make IL-1ra, which is an anti-inflammatory cytokine that inhibits IL-1. It is our hypothesis that postinjury PMNs are primed for increased stimulated release of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-8 and TNF but not the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-1ra.

Methods: Twelve trauma patients with a mean Injury Severity Score of 24 (+/-4.6) and 10 elective surgical patients were studied. Postinjury PMNs were isolated from blood obtained at presentation (within 2 hours after injury) and 24 hours after trauma. PMNs from elective surgical patients were obtained preoperatively, immediately postoperatively, and at 24 hours. The PMNs were stimulated with platelet-activating factor (200 nM)/N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (1 micromol/L) or lipopolysaccharide (100 ng/mL) incubated for 24 hours in RPMI-1640, and release of IL-8, TNF, and IL-1ra were measured.

Results: Postinjury PMNs were primed for both platelet-activating factor/N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine-stimulated and lipopolysaccharide-stimulated IL-8 and TNF release at 2 hours after injury (fourfold increase of IL-8 release and fivefold increase of TNF release), whereas elective surgical patients demonstrated no priming. In contrast, postinjury patients were not primed for increased release of the counterinflammatory cytokine IL-1ra, suggesting a specific postinjury up-regulation of IL-8 and TNF.

Conclusion: After injury, PMNs are primed for proinflammatory cytokine release in addition to superoxide and elastase. This augmented release of IL-8 and TNF may be involved in the subsequent development of organ dysfunction and ultimately MOF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Interleukin-1 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Male
  • Multiple Organ Failure / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / metabolism*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Wounds and Injuries / immunology*


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-8
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha