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Respiratory burst activity of PMN is increased in most patients during septic shock

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To investigate whether burst activity of polymorphonuclear cells (PMN) of postoperative/post-traumatic patients during septic shock is predominantly increased, unchanged or decreased compared to that of healthy volunteers.


Over a period of six months, 12 patients (four survivors and eight nonsurvivors) with septic shock for at least three days duration were studied during their period of septic shock on the intensive care unit. E. coli induced burst activity of granulocytes was determined by flow cytometry (Bursttest, Orpegen, Heidelberg, Germany). The PMN burst activity of 12 healthy volunteers served as normal range.


PMN burst activity in healthy volunteers ranged from 5–18 MnI (median 9.2). Compared to this normal range, burst activity of patients with septic shock was predominantly (i.e. on more than 50% of days in septic shock) greater than that of healthy volunteers, in all patients, survivors and non-survivors.


PMN burst activity is predominantly increased in most patients with septic shock compared to healthy volunteers, indicating an activation of PMN during septic shock. Moreover, burst activity of granulocytes during septic shock does not discriminate survivors from non-survivors.

Table Number of patients with more than 50% of days during septic shock within a distinct range of PMN burst activity compared to the normal range

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Barth, E., Fischer, G., Börner, F. et al. Respiratory burst activity of PMN is increased in most patients during septic shock. Crit Care 4 (Suppl 1), P54 (2000).

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