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J Leukoc Biol. 2010 Aug;88(2):233-40. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0110037. Epub 2010 May 18.

Delayed administration of anti-PD-1 antibody reverses immune dysfunction and improves survival during sepsis.

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Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


There is increasing recognition that a major pathophysiologic event in sepsis is the progression to an immunosuppressive state in which the host is unable to eradicate invading pathogens. Although there are likely numerous causes for the immunosuppression, expression of negative costimulatory molecules on immune effector cells is a likely contributing factor. PD-1 is a recently described, negative costimulatory molecule that has potent effects to inhibit T cell activation, cytokine production, and cytotoxic functions. PD-1 plays a critical role in the host response to specific pathogens, but relatively little work has been done on the possible effects of PD-1 in sepsis. We hypothesized that the anti-PD-1 antibody would improve survival in sepsis. Mice underwent CLP, and PD-1 expression was quantitated. Additionally, the effects of anti-PD-1 antibody on lymphocyte apoptosis, cytokine production, host immunity, and survival were determined. PD-1 expression increased beginning 48 h after sepsis, and >20% of CD4 and CD8 T cells were positive by 7 days. Anti-PD-1 antibody administered 24 h after sepsis prevented sepsis-induced depletion of lymphocytes and DCs, increased Bcl-xL, blocked apoptosis, and improved survival. Anti-PD-1 also prevented the loss in DTH, a key indicator of immunocompetence in sepsis. Thus, delayed administration of anti-PD-1 antibody, an important therapeutic advantage, was effective in sepsis. Furthermore, these results add to the growing body of evidence that modulation of the positive and negative costimulatory pathways on immune cells represents a viable therapeutic approach in reversing immunosuppression and improving sepsis survival.

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