MAYWOOD, Ill. -- An award-winning Loyola University Health System study includes some unexpected findings about the immune systems of smoke-inhalation patients.
Contrary to expectations, patients who died from their injuries had lower inflammatory responses in their lungs than patients who survived.
"Perhaps a better understanding of this early pulmonary immune dysfunction will allow for therapies that further improve outcomes in burn care," researchers reported.
Results were released at the 43rd annual meeting of the American Burn Association. The project won the 2011 Carl A. Moyer Resident Award for the best study submitted by a resident physician.
First author of the study is Christopher S. Davis, MD, a general surgery resident at Loyola University Hospital. Corresponding author is Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD, associate director of the Burn & Shock Trauma Institute at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Researchers followed 60 burn patients at the Loyola University Hospital Burn Center. The severity of inhalation injury was categorized into one of five grades (0, 1, 2, 3, and 4), with zero being the absence of visible injury.
As expected, patients with the worst combined burn-and-smoke-inhalation injuries required more time on the ventilator, in the intensive care unit and in the hospital. They also were more likely to die, although this finding fell just short of being statistically significant.
Also according to expectations, patients who died were older and had larger injuries than patients who survived.
But the immune system findings were unexpected. Researchers measured concentrations of 28 immune system modulators in fluid collected from the lungs of patients within 14 hours of burn and smoke-inhalation injuries.
These modulators are proteins produced by leukocytes (white blood cells) and other cells, including those that line the airway. Some of the modulators recruit leukocytes to areas of tissue dam
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Loyola University Health System