The relationship was determined between resting energy expenditure (REE) and interleukin (IL) 6 level following surgery in infants. Sixteen infants of mean(s.e.m.) weight 3.2(0.2) kg undergoing uncomplicated surgery were studied. The operative stress score was recorded and plasma IL‐6 levels were measured before and 4, 8, 12 and 24 h after surgery. Respiratory gas exchange was measured by indirect calorimetry before and at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 24 and 48 h. Urinary nitrogen excretion was measured and calculated. IL‐6 levels increased significantly after surgery (P = 0.006) and were maximal at 12 h. There was a linear correlation between the increase in IL‐6 level and operative severity score (r = 0.61, P = 0.012). REE increased significantly after operation (P0.001), peaking at 2–4 h, and returned to baseline levels by 12 h. The changes in REE preceded those in IL‐6. IL‐6 is a marker of the stress response in infants and may play a role in the subsequent modulation of this response.
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