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The Immune-Enhancing Effect of Perioperative Thymopentin Administration in Elderly Patients Undergoing Major Surgery

Eugen Faist, MD; Wolfgang Ertel, MD; Barbara Salmen; Arno Weiler, MD; Christoph Ressel, MD; Kalman Bolla, MD; Georg Heberer, MD
Arch Surg. 1988;123(12):1449-1453. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1988.01400360019001.
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• The effects of perioperative administration of thymopentin (TP-5) on in vivo and in vitro measurements of cell-mediated immunity in elderly patients undergoing major surgery were investigated. A placebo-controlled study was conducted in 25 patients (mean age, 67 years) with congenital or acquired heart disease undergoing surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass. Patients were divided into three groups: Group 1 patients were given 50 mg of TP-5 subcutaneously two hours preoperatively. Group 2 patients were given 50 mg of TP-5 subcutaneously two hours preoperatively and 48 hours postoperatively. Group 3 patients were given placebo at corresponding times. Cell-mediated immunity measurements were the in vivo delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) response on day 0 and on day 7 to an antigen skin test battery. The in vitro studies included antigen cocktail—induced lymphocyte proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The DTH response on day 7 after surgery was significantly suppressed in group 3 patients compared with the preoperative baseline value, while it remained unaltered in group 1 and 2 patients. There was a considerable difference of DTH measurements (number of positive antigen responses and sum of their mean diameters) between group 2 and 3 patients. Antigen cocktail—induced lymphocyte proliferation, following initial suppression in the majority of patients, was significantly different between the placebo group and patients in group 2 on day 7 after surgery. The data indicate that perioperative administration of TP-5 might be of considerable clinical utility in preventing a defective cellular immune response.

(Arch Surg 1988;123:1449-1453)


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