Human Leukocyte Antigen-DR Isotype Expression in Monocytes and T Cells Interferon-Gamma Release Assay in Septic Patients and Correlation With Clinical Outcome

Marilena Greco, Aurora Mazzei, Salvatore Suppressa, Claudio Palumbo, Tiziano Verri, Giambattista Lobreglio


Background: Sepsis is a life-threatening dysregulated host response to infection responsible of multiple organs dysfunction (Sepsis-3 International Consensus Definition), during which clinical outcome is a balance between inflammation and immune suppression. Monocytes and lymphocytes may play an important role in immune paralysis, and their impaired functional activity can decrease overall immune system efficiency. We evaluated sepsis-induced changes in monocytes human leukocyte antigen-DR isotype (HLA-DR) expression and T cell capacity of interferon (IFN)-gamma production in relation with patient’s clinical outcome.

Methods: Analysis of HLA-DR expression on blood monocytes (mHLA-DR) was performed in 55 patients with high procalcitonin (hPCT, > 0.5 ng/mL,) and suspected/confirmed sepsis, and 20 controls. HLA-DR absolute quantification and IFN-gamma release assay were monitored in 16 septic patients for 4 weeks following sepsis confirmation.

Results: Cytofluorimetric analysis revealed a significant decrease of mHLA-DR percentage in septic patients with adverse outcome compared to patients with better clinical outcome (88.4% vs. 98.6% with P < 0.05), in combination with a significant decrease of absolute number of HLA-DR molecules per monocyte (P < 0.05, starting at 1 week of follow-up). Lymphocytes stimulation with phytohemagglutinin (PHA), Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and Candida albicans (C. albicans) showed a severe declining of IFN-gamma release related to fatal clinical outcome of patients.

Conclusions: This immunologic anergy of innate and adaptative immunity showed an early immune paralysis during sepsis which appears correlated with the impairment of clinical outcome.

J Clin Med Res. 2021;13(5):293-303


Immune paralysis; Sepsis; HLA-DR; Interferon-γ

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