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January 1997

Characteristics of Thoracic Duct Lymph in Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome

Arch Surg. 1997;132(1):13-18. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1997.01430250015002

Objective:  To investigate the presence of endotoxin, bacteria, and potential humoral and cellular mediators in thoracic duct lymph and peripheral blood in patients with severe refractory multiple organ dysfunction.

Design:  Convenience sample.

Setting:  General intensive care unit of a university hospital.

Patients:  Two men and 2 women were studied after a mean of 7.25 days (range, 6-9 days) of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome. The primary injury was thoracic in 1 patient and abdominal in 3 patients.

Intervention:  The thoracic duct was cannulated with a 7F catheter and samples of lymph and peripheral blood were obtained.

Main Outcome Measures:  Simultaneous lymph and serum levels of lipopolysaccharide, tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin-1β, and interleukin-6, and activation markers on T lymphocytes.

Results:  Lipopolysaccharide and cytokine levels were low in lymph and serum, except for a mean lymph-to-serum ratio of 53.4 for interleukin-1β. There was phenotypical evidence of intense polyclonal T-lymphocyte activation in both lymph and peripheral blood with increased lymph-to-peripheral blood ratios. Increased percentages in lymph of CD45RA+CD45RO+ lymphocytes were observed. In 1 patient, Proteus mirabilis grew simultaneously in lymph, pancreatic necrosis fluid, and a central venous catheter tip. All simultaneous blood cultures were negative.

Conclusions:  Our results provide evidence of the participation of the gut-associated lymphatic tissue in the pathogenesis of the multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, suggesting that T-cell activation and cytokine production occur at the gut level. Future studies are needed to confirm and extend our findings.Arch Surg. 1997;132:13-18