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Nat Med. 1998 Jul;4(7):808-13.

Sympathetic activation triggers systemic interleukin-10 release in immunodepression induced by brain injury.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Medical School Charité, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.


The mechanism of immunodepression after brain injury is not yet clear. Here we demonstrate rapid systemic release of the immunoinhibitory cytokine interleukin-10, monocytic deactivation and a high incidence of infection in patients with 'sympathetic storm' due to acute accidental or iatrogenic brain trauma. In vitro studies showed that within minutes catecholamines trigger the secretion of interleukin-10 from unstimulated monocytes through a beta-adrenoreceptor-mediated, cAMP/protein kinase A-dependent pathway. We found that in a rat model of acute brain injury, the beta-receptor antagonist propranolol prevented the increase of interleukin-10 plasma levels. Rapid monocytic interleukin-10 release after sympathetic activation may represent a common pathway for immunodepression induced by stress and injury.

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