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Critical Care

Open Access

Relationship between clinical and cytokines profile of brain-death donors

  • SL Mello1,
  • M da Consolação Vieira Moreira1 and
  • RMFL Silva1
Critical Care201317(Suppl 3):P4

Published: 19 June 2013


Brain death induces a massive inflammatory response. The majority of transplants are derived from donors who suffered from brain injury. The possible relation of clinical profile and cytokines in donors has been poorly explored. The objectives of this study were to analyze clinical characteristics of brain-dead donors and the correlation with cytokine profile in the ICU of a unique tertiary-care hospital.


We evaluated 120 consecutive potential brain-dead organ donors (mean age 34.9 years, 74.2% males) between July 2007 and June 2008. Plasma cytokines (TNF, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IFNγ) were measured in 40 donors immediately after criteria for brain death (or confirmatory tests) and after obtaining consent from families. Cytokines were assessed by cytometric bead array in the plasma and all laboratory personnel were blinded to clinical information.


The main cause of brain death was cerebral trauma (80%) and cerebral vascular accidents. The use of vasoactive agents was 90.6%. The median time of stay in the ICU was 2 days and the mean of organs transplanted was 2.2. Data (mean pg/ml) of cytokines were: IL-2, 3.32; IL-4, 2.63; IL-5, 11.4; IL-10, 25.99; IFN, 9.72; and TNF, 2.32. In 35% of donors IL-6 was above 5,000 pg/ml and in 15% IL-8 was below the detection limit of analysis. We did not find correlation (nonparametric statistical tests) between cytokines and gender, age, and laboratory tests of our organ donors. Pearson correlation between IL-6 and TNF was 0.001. IL-2 and IL-4, IL-5, IL-10 and IFN presented Pearson correlation ≤0.00. See Table 1.
Table 1

Cytokine levels


P value









IL-10 Th2





Levels of proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines were increased in brain-dead donors and were correlated. There was no difference between cytokines and clinical and laboratory profiles.

Authors’ Affiliations

Universidade Federa de Minas Gerais, Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil


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  2. Barklin A: Systemic inflammation in the brain-dead organ donor. Acta Anaesthesiol Scand 2009, 53: 425-435. 10.1111/j.1399-6576.2008.01879.xView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar


© Mello et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.