Anesthetics and other products used during the perioperative period may influence immune function not only merely by reducing the HPA-axis stress response but also by directly modulating innate and adaptive immune responses. Most of the literature on the immune effects of anesthetics has been derived from in vitro or animal studies, due to the number of confounding variables in real life surgical settings. These immunosuppressive effects might not normally have clinical consequences for an immune-competent patient, but may act as important modifiers in postoperative morbidity and mortality. Furthermore, some inhibitory effects on neutrophil functions may provide a therapeutically beneficial effect under specific surgical clinical conditions, such as ischemia-reperfusion injury.
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