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Increased MerTK expression in circulating innate immune cells of patients with septic shock

Caroline Guignant| Fabienne Venet| Séverine Planel| Julie Demaret| Aurélie Gouel-Chéron| Christophe Nougier| Arnaud Friggeri| Bernard Allaouchiche| Alain Lepape| Guillaume Monneret
Original Article
Volume 39, Issue 9 / September , 2013

Pages 1556 - 1564

Abstract

Purpose

A new pathway of three protein tyrosine kinase receptors, namely, the TAM receptor family [Tyro-3, Axl and Mer tyrosine kinase (MerTK)], has recently been described to negatively control immune responses. The objective of this prospective, observational, clinical study was to investigate the expression patterns of TAM receptors in circulating white blood cells collected from patients with septic shock.

Methods

The expression of TAM receptors was measured by flow cytometry in circulating leukocytes from patients with septic shock sampled on days (D) 1–2 (n = 47) and D3–4 (n = 37) after the onset of shock, severe trauma patients at D1–2 after trauma (n = 51) and healthy individuals (n = 23).

Results

On D1–2 after injury, MerTK was overexpressed in monocytes and neutrophils collected from patients with septic shock in comparison with those collected from healthy volunteers and trauma patients. This phenomenon was also observed for mRNA. Conversely, the expression of Tyro-3 and Axl was higher in monocytes from trauma patients versus healthy volunteers or those in septic shock. MerTK expression between D1–2 and D3–4 remained elevated in patients suffering from septic shock who died or developed an intensive care unit-acquired infection, whereas it decreased in patients who recovered uneventfully. This in vivo observed expression pattern was reproduced ex vivo after the incubation of healthy volunteer cells with plasma from septic shock or trauma patients.

Conclusions

MerTK expression in circulating innate immune cells is increased in patients with septic shock in comparison with healthy volunteers and trauma patients. Persistent MerTK overexpression after septic shock is associated with adverse outcome. The role of this family of receptors in the pathophysiology of injury-induced immune dysfunctions deserves to be specifically investigated.

Keywords

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