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Open Access Research

Effects of helium and air inhalation on the innate and early adaptive immune system in healthy volunteers ex vivo

Gezina TML Oei1, Kirsten F Smit1, Djai vd Vondervoort1, Daniel Brevoord1, Arjan Hoogendijk23, Catharina W Wieland1, Markus W Hollmann1, Benedikt Preckel1* and Nina C Weber1

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Experimental Intensive Care and Anesthesiology (L.E.I.C.A.) Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, Amsterdam, 1100 DD, The Netherlands

2 Center for Infection and Immunity Amsterdam, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, Amsterdam, 1100 DD, The Netherlands

3 Center for Experimental and Molecular Medicine, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, Amsterdam, 1100 DD, The Netherlands

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Journal of Translational Medicine 2012, 10:201  doi:10.1186/1479-5876-10-201

Published: 24 September 2012

Abstract

Background

Helium inhalation protects myocardium, brain and endothelium against ischemia/reperfusion injury in animals and humans, when applied according to specific “conditioning” protocols. Before widespread use of this “conditioning” agent in clinical practice, negative side effects have to be ruled out. We investigated the effect of prolonged helium inhalation on the responsiveness of the human immune response in whole blood ex vivo.

Methods

Male healthy volunteers inhaled 30 minutes heliox (79%He/21%O2) or air in a cross over design, with two weeks between measurements. Blood was withdrawn at T0 (baseline), T1 (25 min inhalation) and T2-T5 (1, 2, 6, 24 h after inhalation) and incubated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), lipoteichoic acid (LTA), T-cell stimuli anti-CD3/ anti-CD28 (TCS) or RPMI (as control) for 2, 4 and 24 hours or not incubated (0 h). An additional group of six volunteers inhaled 60 minutes of heliox or air, followed by blood incubation with LPS and RPMI. Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-8 (IL-8), interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and interleukin-2 (IL-2) was analyzed by cytometric bead array. Statistical analysis was performed by the Wilcoxon test for matched samples.

Results

Incubation with LPS, LTA or TCS significantly increased TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, IFN-γ and IL-2 in comparison to incubation with RPMI alone. Thirty min of helium inhalation did not influence the amounts of TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, IFN-γ and IL-2 in comparison to air. Sixty min of helium inhalation did not affect cytokine production after LPS stimulation.

Conclusions

We conclude that 79% helium inhalation does not affect the responsiveness of the human immune system in healthy volunteers.

Trial registration

Dutch Trial Register: http://www.trialregister.nl/ webcite NTR2152

Keywords:
Noble gas; Side effects; Cell-mediated immunity; Ischemia-reperfusion injury; Whole blood stimulation