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Crit Care. 2011;15(5):R224. doi: 10.1186/cc10464. Epub 2011 Sep 22.

Serial increase of IL-12 response and human leukocyte antigen-DR expression in severe sepsis survivors.

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  • 1Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 222 Mai-Chin Road, Keelung, 204, Taiwan.



Sepsis-induced immunosuppression may result in death. The mechanisms of immune suppression include loss of macrophage and monocyte expression of the major histocompatibility complex, increased anti-inflammatory cytokine expression and decreased expression of proinflammatory cytokines. In this study, we sought to determine the mechanisms of immune suppression in severe sepsis by repeated detection.


We designed this prospective observational study to measure monocyte human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DR expression, plasma cytokine levels and cytokine responses on days 1 and 7 in stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of healthy controls and patients with severe sepsis.


Of the 35 enrolled patients, 23 survived for 28 days and 12 died, 6 of whom died within 7 days. Plasma levels of IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10, IL-17, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 and TNF-α were higher, but plasma IL-12 level was lower in septic patients than those in controls. Day 1 plasma levels of IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10 and TGF-β1 in nonsurvivors were higher than those in survivors. Day 7 plasma IL-10 levels in nonsurvivors were higher than in survivors. IL-1β response was higher, but IL-12 and TNF-α responses were lower in septic patients than in controls. Day 1 IL-6 response was lower, but day 1 TGF-β1 response was higher in nonsurvivors than in survivors. Plasma IL-6 and IL-10 levels were decreased in survivors after 6 days. IL-6 response was decreased in survivors after 6 days, but IL-12 response was increased. Monocyte percentage was higher, but positive HLA-DR percentage in monocytes and mean fluorescence intensity (MFI) of HLA-DR were lower in septic patients than in controls. MFI of HLA-DR was increased in survivors after 6 days.


Monocyte HLA-DR expression and IL-12 response from PBMCs are restored in patients who survive severe sepsis.

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