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World J Surg. 1992 Jan-Feb;16(1):53-6.

The immunologic response to thermal injury.

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Department of Surgery, Sahlgren's Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden.


Thermal injury is associated with altered immune defense. Extensive and deep thermal injuries lead to depressed immune defense function with both cellular and humoral defense affected. There is an intricate interaction between various components of the immune system. The altered specific immune response is seen as a depressed ability to produce active rosette-forming cells. Depressed stimulation of lymphocyte proliferation as well as the mixed lymphocyte response have also been recorded following burns. These effects are modulated by the release of kinins, prostaglandins, anaphylatoxins, superoxides, and leukotrienes, all of which can influence the inflammatory response following thermal injury. The humoral immunity is altered as seen by decreased levels of immunoglobulins, activation of complement with release of anaphylatoxins, and formation of membrane attacking complexes leading to inflammation and cytolysis. The immune response to burns is also affected by factors other than this injury, such as nutrition or diseases such as diabetes mellitus or disorders of the lymphoproliferative type. The immune response is also influenced by some drugs used for other reasons such as steroids, chemotherapeutic agents, and topical agents used for burn wound care. The immune reaction to a burn is also influenced by the additive effect of superimposed infections. Removal of injured tissue without the need for extensive transfusion will improve the ability of the burned patients to use their immune defense system in a fruitful way.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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