Interleukin-2 initiates metabolic responses associated with critical illness in humans

H. R. Michie, T. J. Eberlein, D. R. Spriggs, K. R. Manogue, A. Cerami, D. W. Wilmore

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57 Scopus citations


The cytokine interleukin-2 is a primary modulator of the immune response that occurs after infection, trauma, and transplant rejection, yet its role as a mediator of associated metabolic changes in surgical illness is unknown. We studied clinical and metabolic responses in eleven tumor-bearing humans with normal renal and hepatic function receiving bolus intravenous (I.V.) interleukin-2 (30,000 U/kg). Additional subjects (n = 6) were pretreated with the cyclooxygenase inhibitor, ibuprofen (1600 mg, orally), before interleukin-2 administration. Serial measurements were made of vital signs, symptoms, hematology, and plasma concentrations of pituitary and stress hormones and selected cytokines. Administration of interleukin-2 resulted in fever, tachycardia, 'flu-like' symptoms, and neurohormonal elaboration. The responses observed were quantitatively similar to those that occurred after endotoxin administration in healthy subjects (n = 13), but differed in the following manner: 1) the onset of fever and endocrine changes occurred after a longer latent interval (180-240 minutes vs. 60-90 minutes after endotoxin), 2) peak responses after the administration of interleukin-2 also occurred later, 3) no increased circulating tumor necrosis factor was detected after administration of interleukin-2 (peak plasma concentration was <35 pg/ml vs. 270 ± 70 pg/ml after endotoxin administration), and 4) administration of interleukin-2 but not of endotoxin was associated with increased circulating concentrations of gamma interferon (peak plasma concentration 1.7 ± 0.2 NIH U/ml vs. <0.1 NIH U/ml after endotoxin administration). Fever and neurohormonal responses after interleukin-2 administration were greatly attenuated by ibuprofen administration. Interleukin-2 induces other cytokines that exert their effects largely through the cyclooxygenase pathway. Interleukin-2 may be an important signal, initiating the integrated host responses to infection and injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-503
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1988


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