Smoke Inhalation Defying Expectations

Immune response in patients who died from smoke inhalation

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Smoke inhalation can cause serious lung damage and even death. A new study has shown that the body responded unexpectedly to the damage caused by smoke inhalation.

In a recent study, patients that died from smoke inhalation had a lower inflammatory response in their lungs than surviving patients.

This defied the expectations of researchers who believed that the inflammatory response would be higher in patients who died from smoke inhalation because of the greater damage to the lungs.

"Make sure your smoke detectors are working properly."

The study was led by Christopher S. Davis, MD, MPH, a research resident in Loyola's Burn & Shock Trauma Institute. The study involved 60 patients who were admitted to the Loyola Burn Center.

While the research confirmed most expectations, the lower inflammation response in patients who died from smoke inhalation requires future studies.

Smoke inhalation causes lung tissue damage. White blood cells, called leukocytes, are sent to the damaged areas by the immune system to help repair the damage.

Among the expected results involved patients with the worst burn and smoke inhalation requiring the most time on a ventilator.

Patients who died from smoke inhalation were usually older, had burn injuries that affected a larger part of their body or suffered the worst combined burn and smoke inhalation injuries.

The researchers expected higher levels of modulators, proteins released by the leukocytes, in patients who died from smoke inhalation because the damage from the smoke would require more response from the immune system. That was not the case as higher modulator levels were found in surviving smoke inhalation patients.

Age, genetics or prior health condition could be possible factors to these results according to Dr. Davis. Future studies will be needed in order to better understand how the inflammation response works for smoke inhalation and burn patients.

The study was funded by National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, International Association of Fire Fighters and the Dr. Ralph and Marian C. Falk Medical Research Trust. No known conflicts were reported.

This study was published in the January edition of the Journal of Burn Care & Research.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 17, 2012
Last Updated:
January 23, 2012