Cytokine production was measured in mice during sepsis and intoxication. In mice given live (10 cfu/mouse), by intra-peritoneal injection, serum levels of tumour necrosis factor (TNF)- and interleukin-6 increased steadily from day 1 until day 4. Interferon- levels showed a transient peak on day 3. Interleukin-1- levels were very low. There were high bacterial counts in the livers at day 3 and deaths occurred from day 4 onwards. Intraperitoneal injection of lipopolysaccharide or heat-killed bacteria also induced all of the cytokines, but their time of appearance and levels varied greatly. Cytokine induction by heat-killed bacteria was more marked. Endotoxaemia decreased with time during intoxication and increased during sepsis. Bioactive TNF, as measured by a cytotoxicity assay, was found only in mice given heat-killed bacteria.


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