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J Immunol. 2011 Sep 1;187(5):2148-54. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1101180. Epub 2011 Jul 25.

Immune unresponsiveness to secondary heterologous bacterial infection after sepsis induction is TRAIL dependent.

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Department of Urology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Sepsis is the leading cause of death in most intensive care units, and patients who survive the hyperinflammation that develops early during sepsis later display severely compromised immunity. Not only is there apoptosis of lymphoid and myeloid cells during sepsis that depletes these critical cellular components of the immune system, but also the remaining immune cells show decreased function. Using a cecal-ligation and puncture (CLP) model to induce intra-abdominal polymicrobial peritonitis, we recently established a link between the apoptotic cells generated during sepsis and induction of sepsis-induced suppression of delayed-type hypersensitivity. The present study extends this earlier work to include a secondary heterologous bacterial infection (OVA(257)-expressing Listeria monocytogenes [LM-OVA]) subsequent to sepsis initiation to investigate sepsis-induced alterations in the control of this secondary infection and the associated naive Ag-specific CD8 T cell response. We found that CLP-treated wild-type (WT) mice had a reduced ability to control the LM-OVA infection, which was paralleled by suppressed T cell responses, versus sham-treated WT mice. In contrast, CLP-treated Trail(-/-) and Dr5(-/-) mice were better able to control the secondary bacterial infection, and the Ag-specific CD8 T cell response was similar to that seen in sham-treated mice. Importantly, administration of a blocking anti-TRAIL mAb to CLP-treated WT mice was able to restore the ability to control the LM-OVA infection and generate Ag-specific CD8 T cell responses like those seen in sham-treated mice. These data further implicate TRAIL-dependent immune suppression during sepsis and suggest TRAIL neutralization may be a potential therapeutic target to restore cellular immunity in septic patients.

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