Confirmed: Spinal Cord Injury Can Suppress Immune Function

6 Jul 2023 • Prior observations that patients suffering spinal cord injuries are prone to develop infections may now have an explanation. Biomarkers of immune activity were depressed for at least 2 weeks following spinal cord injury (SCI), researchers found in a prospective study of 70 SCI patients and 41 controls with vertebral fractures, according to researchers. Moreover, the degree of immune suppression correlated with the severity and location of the SCIs, the group reported in the Journal Brain.

They commenced the new study, called SCIentinel, nearly 15 years ago with the aim of tracking SCI patients stratified by injury location and severity, along with a control group having non-SCI traumatic injuries.

  • The team studied this in 111 patients, finding that monocytes, white blood cells that fight bacterial infections, were deactivated shortly after spinal-cord injury.
  • These patients also had reductions in blood levels of antibody and immunoglobulins
  • Researchers measured the levels of a cell-surface molecule called mHLA-DR on monocytes. A low number of these molecules has been shown to predict susceptibility to sepsis in critically ill patients.
  • SCI patients had markedly higher infection rates
  • Only five infections were seen in controls, versus 42 among patients with high complete SCI. Most common were upper respiratory and urinary tract infections.

These findings may help those caring for patients with a spinal cord injury and potentially lead to development of new treatments to reduce patient susceptibility to infection.

Source: Brain | Read full story

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