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Crit Care Med. 1992 Oct;20(10):1414-9.

Circulating interleukin-1 beta and tumor necrosis factor-alpha concentrations after burn injury in humans.

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Department of Medicine, New England Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA.



To measure plasma interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha) concentrations after burn injury and to determine if these concentrations relate to clinical status.


Prospective assessment.


Hospital burn unit.


Thirty-one patients with second- or third-degree burns, covering 10% to 95% of body surface area.


Initial concentrations of IL-1 beta were increased (mean 188 +/- 31 pg/mL), and the concentrations for each patient correlated with body temperature at the time of the blood sample (rho = 0.51, p < .015) (rho is a nonparametric statistical measure; a nonparametric analysis is mandatory for data that is categorical [Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation, APACHE, scores] and data that are not normally distributed [IL-1 beta and tumor necrosis factor, TNF, data]). Mean TNF alpha concentrations were initially 264 +/- 132 pg/mL, and these concentrations were positively related to body temperature (rho = 0.41, p < .05) and inversely related to the total WBC count (rho = -0.45, p < .025). Through the course of hospitalization, plasma cytokine levels fluctuated, but transient increases (sometimes into the nanogram/mL range) did not consistently correspond to changes in clinical signs or severity of illness, as determined by APACHE II scores. The maximum plasma cytokine levels in any patient were not related to age, but maximum IL-1 beta concentrations were inversely related to burn size (rho = -0.46, p < .015). The final IL-1 beta concentrations measured in the patients who died (n = 7) were significantly less than measurements in surviving patients matched for burn size and age taken at approximately the same time after admission.


These results indicate that early after burn injury there is a correspondence of IL-1 beta and TNF alpha with certain host responses, but these correlations disappear with the progression of illness. In general, IL-1 beta and TNF alpha appear to be poor indicators of prognosis during burn injury; however, the association of mortality with low circulating IL-1 beta values supports the concept of IL-1 beta as being an essential mediator of host defenses.

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