This study investigated the effect of an anaesthetic regimen on the immune response in 40 long-term alcoholic patients undergoing surgery. Patients were randomly allocated to receive either propofol or isoflurane during surgery. Plasma cytokines interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-10 were measured at defined times and rates of post-operative infections were documented. The IL-6/IL-10 ratio significantly increased with propofol compared with isoflurane on day 1 after surgery and the IL-10 level significantly increased with isoflurane on day 1 after surgery. The overall post-operative infection rate was significantly higher in isoflurane-treated patients. Our findings indicate that propofol anaesthesia might be the more favourable regimen, with the IL-6/IL-10 ratio indicating an attenuation of the immune imbalance after surgery in long-term alcoholic patients. These results support the undertaking of a properly powered clinical trial to determine if propofol anaesthesia can reduce the postoperative infection rate in this special patient population.
Journal of International Medical Research, 2011, Vol 35, Issue 3, p. 395-405