Patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) frequently develop infections that may affect quality of life, be life-threatening, and impair their neurological recovery in the acute and subacute injury phases. Therefore, identifying patients with SCI at risk for developing infections in this stage is of utmost importance. We determined the systemic levels of immune cell populations, cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors in 81 patients with traumatic SCI at 4 weeks after injury and compared them with those of 26 age-matched healthy control subjects. Patients who developed infections between 4 and 16 weeks after injury exhibited higher numbers of neutrophils and eosinophils, as well as lower numbers of lymphocytes and eotaxin-1 (CCL11) levels. Accordingly, lasso logistic regression showed that incomplete lesions (American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale [AIS] C and D grades), the levels of eotaxin-1, and the number of lymphocytes, basophils, and monocytes are predictive of lower odds for infections. On the other hand, the number of neutrophils and eosinophils as well as, in a lesser extent, the levels of IP-10 (CXCL10), MCP-1 (CCL2), BDNF [brain-derived neurotrophic factor], and vascular endothelial growth factor [VEGF]-A, are predictors of increased susceptibility for developing infections. Overall, our results point to systemic immune disbalance after SCI as predictors of infection in a period when infections may greatly interfere with neurological and functional recovery and suggest new pathways and players to further explore novel therapeutic strategies.
Useful keywords (using NLM MeSH Indexing)
Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A*
Quality of Life
Spinal Cord Injuries*
Recovery of Function
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