Send to

Choose Destination
Br J Anaesth. 2007 Oct;99(4):522-7. Epub 2007 Aug 6.

Low-dose ketamine affects immune responses in humans during the early postoperative period.

Author information

Department of Anaesthesiology and Research Institute, Rabin Medical Center, Hasharon Hospital, 7, Keren Kayemet Street, Petah Tiqva 47372, Israel.



Anaesthesia and surgery are associated with impairment of the immune system expressed as an excessive proinflammatory immune response and suppression of cell-mediated immunity that may affect the course of the postoperative period. Addition of anaesthetic agents capable of attenuating the alterations in perioperative immune function may exert a favourable effect on patients' healing. We have assessed the effect of preoperative administration of a sub-anaesthetic dose of ketamine on the mitogen response and production of interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-2, IL-6, and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), as well as natural killer cell cytotoxicity (NKCC) in patients undergoing abdominal surgery.


Seventeen patients admitted for elective abdominal surgery were given ketamine 0.15 mg kg(-1) i.v. 5 min before induction of general anaesthesia. Nineteen patients received a similar volume of isotonic saline 5 min before induction of the anaesthesia. PBMCs were isolated from venous blood before and 4, 24, 48, and 72 h after operation for IL-1beta, IL-2, IL-6, and TNF-alpha secretion, and NKCC assessment.


Four hours after operation, the cells from patients in the ketamine group showed a significantly suppressed production of IL-6 (P < 0.01) compared with controls. The production of IL-2 did not change from that of the preoperation samples. TNF-alpha secretion was significantly elevated in the control group 4 h after operation (P < 0.05).


Addition of small doses of ketamine before induction of anaesthesia resulted in attenuation of secretion of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-alpha, and in preservation of IL-2 production at its preoperative level. It is suggested that this anaesthetic may be of value in preventing immune function alterations in the early postoperative period.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center