The Immune System in Critically Ill Children with Influenza

An interesting article discussed the results of a study looking at the immune system in critically ill children. The article describes a study published in early 2013 in the January issue of Critical Care Medicine.

Recent evidence indicates that the suppression of innate immune system function can occur in critically ill patients. In this study patients with innate immune suppression produced reduced amounts of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α  when their blood is stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The article states

“Results indicated that despite high levels of circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines, critically ill children with influenza demonstrated lower TNFα production capacity compared with healthy control subjects. Further, children who died from influenza had markedly lower TNFα production capacity compared with survivors.”

Hence this study suggests that the reduction of immune function in these children who are critically ill may make them more prone to death. Hence, this suggest that therapies developed to target the immune system could potentially be an effective treatment for individuals who are critically ill. Investigators from 15 different children medical centers helped conduct this study. Typically the immune function is not measured in patients with influenza.

Source: “Study: Monitoring of Immune Function in Critically Ill Children with Influenza Reveals Severe Immune Suppression in Non-Survivors,” January 16, 2013,

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