Effect of propofol and desflurane on immune cell populations in breast cancer patients: A randomized trial

Jae Hee Woo, Hee Jung Baik, Chi Hyo Kim, Rack Kyung Chung, Dong Yeon Kim, Guie Yong Lee, Eun Hee Chun

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43 Scopus citations


Several factors can affect the perioperative immune function. We evaluated the effect of propofol and desflurane anesthesia on the surgery-induced immune perturbation in patients undergoing breast cancer surgery. The patients were randomly assigned to receive propofol (n = 20) or desflurane (n = 20) anesthesia. The total and differential white blood cell counts were determined with lymphocyte subpopulations before and 1 hr after anesthesia induction and at 24 hr postoperatively. Plasma concentrations of interleukin (IL)-2 and IL-4 were also measured. Both propofol and desflurane anesthesia preserved the IL-2/IL-4 and CD4+/CD8+ T cell ratio. Leukocytes were lower in the propofol group than in the desflurane group at 1 hr after induction (median [quartiles], 4.98 [3.87-6.31] vs. 5.84 [5.18-7.94] 103/μL) and 24 hr postoperatively (6.92 [5.54-6.86] vs. 7.62 [6.22-9.21] 103/μL). NK cells significantly decreased 1 hr after induction in the propofol group (0.41 [0.34-0.53] to 0.25 [0.21-0.33] 103/μL), but not in the desflurane group (0.33 [0.29-0.48] to 0.38 [0.30-0.56] 103/μL). Our findings indicate that both propofol and desflurane anesthesia for breast cancer surgery induce a favorable immune response in terms of preservation of IL-2/IL-4 and CD4+/CD8+ T cell ratio in the perioperative period. With respect to leukocytes and NK cells, desflurane anesthesia is associated with less adverse immune responses than propofol anesthesia during surgery for breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1503-1508
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Korean Medical Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Korean Academy of Medical Sciences.


  • Breast neoplasms
  • Desflurane
  • Immune system
  • Propofol


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