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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2002 Dec 2;66(3):251-7.

Is immune system influenced by adenotonsillectomy in children?

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1.ENT Department of Ankara Numune Research and Training Hospital, Ankara, Turkey.



Tonsils and adenoids are lymphoid tissues that are located in the pharynx and play an important role against invading antigens of the upper respiratory tract. The present study analyses serum immunoglobulin levels and peripheral blood (PB) lymphocyte subsets in children, 24-48 h prior to and 4-6 weeks after adenotonsillectomy, in order to determine early effects of adenotonsillectomy on the immune system.


The study population consists of 15 children (aged 4-10 years) who underwent adenotonsillectomy because of adenoidal hypertrophy and chronic tonsillitis and 15 age-matched healthy children without a history of adenotonsillectomy. Serum IgG, IgA and IgM levels were measured by nephelometry. PB lymphocyte subsets were analysed by using monoclonal antibodies and flow cytometry.


Children with chronic tonsillitis have increased levels of CD19+ B lymphocytes compared to healthy controls in the pre-operative period. The percentage of B lymphocytes bearing CD23 was found to be significantly higher in patients, most likely representing in vivo B lymphocyte activation due to chronic antigenic stimulation. After the adenotonsillectomy, despite ongoing B lymphocyte activation, CD8+ T lymphocyte levels increased and B cell levels returned to normal. A slight decrease in serum IgG, IgA and IgM levels was detected in the post-operative period compared to prior levels.


Adenotonsillectomy performed in children leads to alterations that may reflect a compensatory response of the developing immune system after the removal of the lymphoid tissue in the setting of chronic antigenic stimulation. However, these changes do not cause significant immune deficiency.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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