Chemotherapy may result in the release of danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), which can cause immunoparalysis (deactivation of the immune system). We investigated DAMPs following chemotherapy and their relationship with markers of immunoparalysis in leukemia patients. In 6 patients with acute myeloid leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome and 12 healthy subjects, DAMPs, cytokines, and markers of immunoparalysis were determined before and during the first week after chemotherapy initiation. In the patients, plasma levels of nuclear DNA (a marker of general DAMP release) were profoundly increased before chemotherapy and further increased 4-6 h afterwards, while the specific DAMP mitochondrial DNA showed only a trend towards increase. Circulating cytokine levels did not change following chemotherapy. Leukocyte cytokine production capacity and HLA-DR expression were similar in patients and healthy controls until day 4 when leukocytes were found to be virtually absent. In conclusion, in the early phase following chemotherapy in leukemia patients, increased DAMP release does not induce immunoparalysis.

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