Assessing the immune status of critically ill trauma patients by flow cytometry

Joshua W. Kuethe, Rachael Mintz-Cole, Bobby L. Johnson, Emily F. Midura, Charles C. Caldwell, Barbara St. Pierre Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Unintentional injury or trauma remains the leading cause of death among young adults. About one fifth of these trauma patients require care in an intensive care unit (ICU) because of severity of injuries and comorbidities. Patients hospitalized in an ICU are at increased risk for nosocomial infections, such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia, bacteremia, and wound infections. Many of these patients will develop sepsis or septic shock, and some will progress to multiple organ failure and death. The balance between the proinflammatory and counterinflammatory immune response appears to be a driving factor in this progression. At present, there is no proposed method for the timely detection of the immune status in trauma patients, making rational decisions to use immune-altering therapies difficult.

Objective: We demonstrate that flow cytometry, with its capabilities to characterize and/or enumerate (a) leukocyte subtypes, (b) leukocyte activation markers, (c) leukocyte-derived cytokines and microvesicles, and (d) leukocyte function is well suited to monitor the immune status of critically ill trauma patients.

Methods: Information for the review was obtained from the extant literature.

Discussion: We suggest that flow cytometry is a research method that might aid nurse scientists in investigating the immune status of critically ill patients, the recovery status of conditions such as hemorrhagic shock and tissue injury and the relationship between cancer disease progression and symptoms. Therefore, flow cytometry has the potential to broaden nursing research priority areas so that a comprehensive approach to understanding the cellular response is attained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-434
Number of pages9
JournalNursing research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 10 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


  • Cytokines flow cytometry inflammation
  • Microvesicles monocytes
  • Neutrophils
  • T cells


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