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OBJECTIVE: To examine whether cytokine concentrations change in the pulmonary compartment during the development of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). DESIGN: Non-directed bronchial lavage (NBL) was performed every 48 h in critically ill mechanically ventilated patients. Serial measurements of the cytokines tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha, interleukin (IL)-1alpha, IL-1beta, IL-6, and IL-10 and the cytokine inhibitors soluble TNFalpha receptor type I (sTNFalphaRI), IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) and soluble IL-1 receptor II (sIL-1RII) were performed on the NBL fluid and matching plasma samples by ELISA. SETTING: An adult medical and surgical university hospital intensive care unit. PATIENTS: Nine patients who developed VAP and nineteen patients who did not develop VAP served as controls. INTERVENTIONS: None. RESULTS: Plasma concentrations of the measured cytokines and cytokine inhibitors did not change significantly in any patients. In control patients, NBL fluid concentrations of sIL-1RII decreased significantly over time (P=0.01). In patients who developed VAP, NBL fluid concentrations of TNFalpha, sTNFalphaRI, IL-1alpha, and IL-1beta increased significantly (P=0.002, P=0.03, P=0.04 and P=0.02, respectively). Furthermore, NBL fluid/plasma concentration ratios for TNFalpha, sTNFalphaRI, IL-1alpha, IL-1Ra and IL-6 increased significantly as VAP developed (P=0.001, P=0.001, P=0.04, P=0.03, and P=0.04, respectively). CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that the production of important cytokines and cytokine inhibitors is compartmentalised within the lung in critically ill mechanically ventilated patients who develop VAP.

Original publication




Journal article


Intensive Care Med

Publication Date





68 - 74


Adult, Aged, Antigens, CD, Body Fluid Compartments, Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid, Case-Control Studies, Cytokines, England, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, Female, Hospitals, University, Humans, Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein, Interleukin-1, Interleukin-10, Interleukin-6, Linear Models, Male, Middle Aged, Pneumonia, Bacterial, Receptors, Interleukin-1, Receptors, Interleukin-1 Type I, Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type I, Respiration, Artificial, Sialoglycoproteins, Time Factors, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha