Inflammatory Response to cardiac surgery

A) Disturbances of the anti-oxidative capacity during/following cardiac surgery

Oxidative stress is increasingly being recognized as a major factor contributing to the development of organ failure in critically ill patients. The generation of cytotoxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) results in cellular injury and activates inflammatory pathways by stimulating the expression of proinflammatory transcription factors.

In mammalians, a sophisticated endogenous defense system protects tissues from oxidative stress. As an example, several enzymes such as catalase and glutathione peroxidase neutralize ROS. For these antioxidant (AOX) enzymes, the trace elements selenium (Se), zinc (Zn) and copper (Cu) serve as essential co-factors. Particular interest has been developed for Se as this semi-metal is involved in multiple steps of intracellular antioxidant defense mechanisms. An insufficient endogenous AOX capacity has been repeatedly observed in critically ill patients with a systemic inflammatory response and/or multiorgan dysfunction and shown to be associated with the severity of illness and with mortality.

It is well-known that cardiac surgery with the use of extracorporeal circulation may elicit a systemic inflammatory response and provoke ischemia-reperfusion related oxidative stress with the release of ROS. However, the pathophysiological role of AOX trace elements in the development of multiorgan injury following cardiac surgery is still only poorly understood.

B) Clinical validation of biochemical markers occurring early during the inflammatory response to cardiac surgery

Our interests

Ad A:

  1. Mechanisms of selenium depletion during cardiac surgery
  2. Value of selenium supplementation during cardiac surgery
  3. Usefulness of monitoring oxidative stress at the bedside
  4. Interaction between anaesthetics and the oxidative balance

Ad B:

  1. Kinetics of MIF-release during cardiac surgery
  2. Prognostic role of MIF in cardiac surgery

Research Team

Dr. med. Christian Stoppe
Tel.: 0241 80-36575

Medical students:
Bea Graf
Thilo Werker
Anika Wildenhues


Prof. Dr. J. Bernhagen
(Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biologie)

Dr. med. G. Grieb and Dr. med D. Simons
(Dept. of Plastic Surgery and Hand Surgery, Burn Center)

Prof. Dr. med. Steffen Rex, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Anesthesia
Adjunct Clinical Head
Department of Anesthesiology
UZ Leuven, campus Gasthuisberg


Biosyn (Arzneimittel GmbH, Fellbach)