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Infect Immun. 1995 Jun;63(6):2109-12.

High levels of interleukin 10 in serum are associated with fatality in meningococcal disease.

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  • 1Medical Department B, University of Bergen, Norway.


Interleukin 10 (IL-10) suppresses the production of proinflammatory cytokines in vitro and in murine models of endotoxemia and has been suggested as a candidate for treatment of bacterial septicemia. To investigate the role of IL-10 in meningococcal disease, a sandwich IL-10 enzyme-amplified sensitivity immunoassay was used to quantitate IL-10 in serum and cerebrospinal fluid samples from 41 patients with meningococcal bacteremia or meningitis with or without septic shock. High levels of IL-10 were demonstrated in sera from patients with meningococcal septic shock (mean, 21,221 pg/ml; range, 25 to 64,500 pg/ml). All cases involving fatalities had IL-10 levels in serum of > or = 1,000 pg/ml (mean, 23,058 pg/ml; range, 1,000 to 64,500 pg/ml). Patients with meningococcal meningitis without septic shock had comparably low concentrations of IL-10 in serum (mean, 119 pg/ml; range, 0 to 1,050 pg/ml) but exhibited compartmentalized release of IL-10 in cerebrospinal fluid. Concentrations of IL-10 in serum were positively correlated with the previously reported concentrations of tumor necrosis factor alpha, IL-6, and IL-8 in serum in the same patients. We conclude that IL-10 is extensively activated along with the proinflammatory cytokines during the initial phase of meningococcal septic shock and that IL-10 is associated with fatality in meningococcal disease.

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