The 1996 Moyer Award: Effects of endotoxin on the Th1/Th2 response in humans

S. Zimmer, V. Pollard, G. D. Marshall, R. P. Garofalo, D. Traber, D. Prough, D. N. Herndon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Monocyte/T-cell interactions play a critical role in the systemic response to infection. Distinct patterns of cytokines are produced by two different types of T-helper cells (Th). Th1 cells secrete interleukin-2 (IL- 2) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ), whereas Th2 cells produce IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, and IL-13. In volunteers systemic endotoxin administration initiates many features of gram-negative sepsis including cytokine release, but the patterns (i.e., Th1/Th2 patterns) have not yet been studied. In this institutional review board-approved study we investigated the effect of an intravenous bolus of endotoxin from Escherichia coli (4 ng/kg body weight) on the Th1/Th2 response in four female and four male volunteers (mean age 27.1 ± 0.8 years). Plasma cytokine levels for IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, IL-12, and IFN- γ and heart rate, mean arterial pressure, temperature, white blood cell, and differential blood count were determined before and hourly for 5 hours after endotoxin administration. All volunteers had tachycardia, decreased mean arterial pressure, fever, and leukocytosis. IL-10 was significantly (p < 0.05) elevated (9.4 ± 3.9 pg/ml vs 60.9 ± 19.3 pg/ml) 3 hours after endotoxin was administered, whereas IL-2 levels were decreased (69 ± 26 U/ml vs 30.6 ± 14.9 U/ml). IL-4 and IFN-γ were not detectable in plasma. No changes were seen in the plasma levels of IL-12. Systemic responses did not correlate with changes in cytokine levels. Cytokine patterns found in this study suggest that after low-dose endotoxin administration the T-cell immune response is shifted towards the Th2 cell type response. This early shift towards a Th2 cell response may contribute to the depressed cell-mediated immune response associated with sepsis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-496
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • General Nursing
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Rehabilitation
  • General Health Professions


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