• Neutrophil superoxide production has been recognized as an important pathway for microbicidal activity and regulation of the local inflammatory environment. To investigate neutrophil superoxide production in sepsis, we studied 22 patients with intra-abdominal infections, and correlated superoxide production with chemotactic response and granular enzyme content. Our results showed that neutrophils from infected patients had specific loss of chemotactic response to C5a, and were deficient in the granular enzymes, lysozyme, and β-glucuronidase. Superoxide production in response to opsonized zymosan was intact, but response to the chemoattractant N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine was markedly depressed. This could be reversed in vitro by the addition of cytochalasin B. These results suggest that down regulation of exocytosis of superoxide to nonphagocytic stimuli occurs during sepsis, possibly protecting the host from tissue injury due to oxide radical release. Superoxide response to phagocytic stimulation was intact.
(Arch Surg 1985;120:93-98)