The role of proinflammatory cytokines in the detection of early pressure ulcer development: a systematic review

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Journal of wound care


OBJECTIVE: Pressure ulcers (PUs) commonly occur over bony prominences and are notoriously difficult to treat. Proinflammatory cytokines are substances that initiate the inflammatory process preceding PU development. The aim of this review was to assess whether the increased presence of proinflammatory cytokines could potentially be used as an early detection system for PU development. METHOD: A systematic search of publications using MEDLINE, CINAHL, and Cochrane databases was conducted in August 2020. Data were extracted and a narrative synthesis was undertaken. The evidence-based librarianship (EBL) checklist assessed the methodological quality of the included studies. The systematic review included original research studies, prospective design, and human studies written in English. Retrospective studies, animal studies, conference papers, opinion papers and qualitative methodology were excluded. No restrictions on the date of publication and study setting were applied. RESULTS: The six studies included were conducted between 2015 and 2019, 50% (n=3) used an experimental study design. The mean sample size was 15 participants (standard deviation=1.72). A total of seven proinflammatory cytokines were analysed. Statistically significant differences were found among inflammatory mediators. Overall results showed that the concentration of interleukin (IL)-1α significantly increased in each study. The EBL score varied between 77-88%. In total, 100% (n=6) of the studies scored ≥75%, reflecting validity. CONCLUSION: It is not yet certain that monitoring proinflammatory cytokines represents a noninvasive method that could potentially direct preventative measures to those who are identified as at high risk for developing PUs. IL-1α potentially may be elevated for other health conditions, not just PUs. Future studies are therefore recommended.

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