PURPOSE/INTRODUCTION: We have examined the immune status of elderly patients who underwent surgery for a hip fracture, an injury associated with poor postoperative outcomes, to identify specific immune defects.
METHODS: In a cohort observational study, 16 patients undergoing surgery for hip fractures had immune function evaluation prior to surgery, and then at 3 and 7 days postoperatively, using flow cytometry for phenotype and for monocyte and granulocyte phagocytic function and respiratory burst. Serum samples were stored and batch analyzed using a human cytokine 25-plex panel.
RESULTS: We report significant loss of innate immune function, related specifically to reduced granulocyte numbers by day 7 (P < .0001, flow cytometry; P < .05 white blood cells), and although granulocyte ability to take up opsonized Escherichia coli was increased (P < .05), the ability of those cells to generate a respiratory burst was reduced at days 3 and 7 (P < .05). Monocyte respiratory burst was also significantly reduced (P < .05). Serum cytokine levels indicated very poor T-cell function.
CONCLUSION: We have demonstrated that the antimicrobial immune response is profoundly reduced after surgery in elderly patients with hip fractures. The effect was sustained up to 7 days postoperatively, identifying these patients as particularly vulnerable to bacterial infections.
We are grateful to S. S. Baliga and S McKenna for help in recruiting participants for this study, and to Vijitha Sivarasa for technical help in setting up the assays.
This work was funded by Joint Action, the orthopaedic research appeal of the British Orthopaedic Association.
- cellular immunology
- innate immunity
- T cells