Systemic inflammation participates to the complex healing process occurring after major surgery, thus directly affecting the surgical outcome and patient recovery. Total plasma N-glycome might be an indicator of inflammation after major surgery, as well as an anti-inflammatory therapy response marker, since protein glycosylation plays an essential role in the inflammatory cascade. Therefore, we assessed the effects of surgery on the total plasma N-glycome and the association with self-administration of postoperative morphine in two cohorts of patients that underwent major abdominal surgery. We found that plasma N-glycome undergoes significant changes one day after surgery and intensifies one day later, thus indicating a systemic physiological response. In particular, we observed the increase of bisialylated biantennary glycan, A2G2S[3,6]2, 12 hours after surgery, which progressively increased until 48 postoperative hours. Most changes occurred 24 hours after surgery with the decrease of most core-fucosylated biantennary structures, as well as the increase in sialylated tetraantennary and FA3G3S[3,3,3]3 structures. Moreover, we observed a progressive increase of sialylated triantennary and tetraantennary structures two days after surgery, with a concomitant decrease of the structures containing bisecting N-acetylglucosamine along with bi- and trisialylated triantennary glycans. We did not find any statistically significant association between morphine consumption and plasma N-glycome.
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