Little attention has been focused on the local burn wound environment, even though burn wound sepsis is a common cause of death in the burn victim. To characterize the effect of the local burn wound environment on neutrophil function and metabolism, the opsonic activity of blister fluid specimens against Pseudomonas aeruginosa was measured as was the effect of blister fluid on control neutrophil oxygen consumption using preopsonized zymosan and f-met-leu-phe (FMLP) as stimuli. Blister fluid did not support the killing of P. aeruginosa by normal neutrophils as well as normal serum. Additionally, blister fluid inhibited zymosan-stimulated, but not FMLP-stimulated, neutrophil oxygen consumption. The inhibitory effect of blister fluid on zymosan-stimulated oxygen consumption correlated with the extent of complement activation, measured as C3d or C3AI (p less than 0.01). That blister fluid did not inhibit the FMLP-mediated respiratory burst supports the concept that the blister fluid inhibitory effect on the zymosan-mediated respiratory burst was mediated through the complement receptor. These findings that blister fluid can affect the bactericidal and metabolic activity of normal neutrophils support the concept that cellular function can be altered by the microenvironment in which the cells are bathed. This potential impairment of host defenses within the burn wound could predispose the burn victim to burn wound sepsis
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