Although severe open fractures and wounds can give rise to local infections and sepsis, the overall infection rate of multiply injured patients is surprisingly low.
We have investigated serum of multiply injured patients with respect to antibacterial properties and screened for host defence peptides (HDP) that constitute a class of fast acting and rapidly available molecules preventing bacterial infection.
Serum specimens were obtained from multiply injured patients.
Radial diffusion assays were performed to investigate antimicrobial properties.
Ultrafiltration and heat-inactivation were used to rule out antimicrobial activity of large proteins i.e. complement factors. ELISA was performed to analyse serum concentrations of the human beta-defensins 2 and 3 (hBD-2 and hBD-3), LL-37 and the proinflammatory cytokines interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). Serum of multiply injured patients showed greater zones of inhibition in antimicrobial testing against Gram negative und positive bacteria.
This effect was mediated by proteins smaller than 10 kDa, inactivation of the complement system does not significantly reduce antibacterial action. hBD-2, hBD-3 and LL-37 concentrations were significantly elevated after trauma and followed different characteristic concentration curves.
Similar patterns of concentration profiles were recorded for hBD-2/IL-6 and hBD-3/IFN-γ suggesting a stimulatory influence within their induction process.
With this study we provide evidence, that serum of multiply injured patients has by far higher antibacterial capacity than that of healthy donors.
As possible mediators we have detected the HDP hBD-2, hBD-3 and LL-37 and their inducers in serum of multiply injured patients.