Effect of naloxone on immune responses after hemorrhagic shock

Matthias W. Wichmann, René Zellweger, Alfred Ayala, Irshad H. Chaudry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To determine whether naloxone administration after hemorrhagic shock has any beneficial or deleterious effect on immune responses. Background Data: Hemorrhagic shock is known to produce immunodepression in both humans and experimental animals. Although studies suggest that endogenous opioids play a role in immune regulation in adverse circulatory conditions, it remains controversial whether these opioids exert beneficial or detrimental effects on immunity after shock. Moreover, little information is available concerning the effects of opioid receptor blockade using naloxone on cell-mediated immunity and endocrine responses after shock. Methods: Male C3H/HeN mice (25 g) were bled to and maintained at a mean arterial blood pressure of 35 ± 5 mm Hg for 1 hr. The shed blood was then returned along with lactated Ringer's solution (two times the shed blood volume) to provide fluid resuscitation. The animals were randomized to receive either naloxone (1 mg/kg iv) or an equal volume of vehicle (saline) after the shed blood was returned, i.e., immediately before crystalloid resuscitation, and were killed at 2 hrs after resuscitation to obtain splenocytes, macrephages (peritoneal and splenic), and blood. Measurements and Main Results: Bioassays revealed significantly decreased release of all studied interleukins (interleukins-1, -2, -3, and -6) by peritoneal and splenic macrophages as well as significantly decreased splenocyte proliferative capacity after shock in vehicle-treated mice. Naloxone administration after hemorrhage resulted in either similar or even more decreased levels of interleukin release compared with vehicle-treated hemorrhaged mice. Significantly increased plasma corticosterone concentrations were observed in vehicle-treated animals compared with control animals. Naloxone administration did not have any significant effects on corticosterone plasma concentrations after hemorrhage. Conclusions: These findings indicate the importance of the endogenous opioid system for the maintenance of immunity in adverse circulatory conditions, i.e., hemorrhage. Although additional studies involving different doses and/or times of naloxone administration may provide different results, the present findings raise the concern that naloxone administration in the traumatized host may have deleterious effects because it decreases peritoneal macrophage and splenic immune functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-189
Number of pages6
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Corticosteronei interleukins
  • Hemorrhagic shock
  • Immune function
  • Lymphocyte
  • Macrophage
  • Mice
  • Naloxone
  • Opioid
  • Splenocyte


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