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J Immunol. 2008 Jul 15;181(2):1399-408.

Apolipoprotein E-mediated immune regulation in sepsis.

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Department of Surgery, University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA.


Lipids and lipoproteins have emerged as key constituents of the immune response to microbial infection. We, therefore, sought to understand the complex interaction between lipoprotein metabolism and sepsis. Apolipoprotein E (apoE), a component of plasma lipoproteins, has been suggested to bind and traffic Ags for NKT cell activation. However, apoE's role in sepsis has not been demonstrated. In this study, we examined the effect of exogenous apoE in a rat model of septic peritonitis, induced by cecal ligation and puncture. We demonstrate that 48 h after serial injections of apoE, septic mortality increased in a dose-dependent manner. While sepsis resulted in increased splenic and decreased hepatic and circulating NKT cell populations, serial injections of apoE for 24 h after cecal ligation and puncture increased the frequency, cell number, and BrdU uptake in splenic and hepatic NKT cell populations, while concomitantly depleting these populations in the circulation. These changes were correlated with elevated alanine amino transferase levels, an indicator of liver injury. Interestingly, while sepsis increased hepatic T cell apoptosis and necrosis, apoE reversed these changes. apoE also promoted increases in predominantly Th1 cytokine levels in sera and a decrease in IL-4, the main NKT cell-derived Th2 cytokine. Consequently, apoE treatment is associated with increased sepsis-induced mortality, and increased NKT cell frequency and proliferation in the liver and spleen, with concomitant decreases in these NKT cell parameters in the peripheral circulation. apoE treatment also promoted a Th1 cytokine response, increased the degree of liver injury, and decreased apoptosis in hepatic lymphocytes.

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