Polymicrobial sepsis impairs bystander recruitment of effector cells to infected skin despite optimal sensing and alarming function of skin resident memory CD8 T cells

Derek B. Danahy, Scott M. Anthony, Isaac J. Jensen, Stacey M. Hartwig, Qiang Shan, Hai Hui Xue, John T. Harty, Thomas S. Griffith, Vladimir P. Badovinac

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42 Scopus citations


Sepsis is a systemic infection that enhances host vulnerability to secondary infections normally controlled by T cells. Using CLP sepsis model, we observed that sepsis induces apoptosis of circulating memory CD8 T-cells (TCIRCM) and diminishes their effector functions, leading to impaired CD8 T-cell mediated protection to systemic pathogen re-infection. In the context of localized re-infections, tissue resident memory CD8 T-cells (TRM) provide robust protection in a variety of infectious models. TRMrapidly ‘sense’ infection in non-lymphoid tissues and ‘alarm’ the host by enhancing immune cell recruitment to the site of the infection to accelerate pathogen clearance. Here, we show that compared to pathogen-specific TCIRCM, sepsis does not invoke significant numerical decline of Vaccinia virus induced skin-TRMkeeping their effector functions (e.g., Ag-dependent IFN-γ production) intact. IFN-γ-mediated recruitment of immune cells to the site of localized infection was, however, reduced in CLP hosts despite TRMmaintaining their ‘sensing and alarming’ functions. The capacity of memory CD8 T-cells in the septic environment to respond to inflammatory cues and arrive to the site of secondary infection/antigen exposure remained normal suggesting T-cell-extrinsic factors contributed to the observed lesion. Mechanistically, we showed that IFN-γ produced rapidly during sepsis-induced cytokine storm leads to reduced IFN-γR1 expression on vascular endothelium. As a consequence, decreased expression of adhesion molecules and/or chemokines (VCAM1 and CXCL9) on skin endothelial cells in response to TRM-derived IFN-γ was observed, leading to sub-optimal bystander-recruitment of effector cells and increased susceptibility to pathogen re-encounter. Importantly, as visualized by intravital 2-photon microscopy, exogenous administration of CXCL9/10 was sufficient to correct sepsis-induced impairments in recruitment of effector cells at the localized site of TRMantigen recognition. Thus, sepsis has the capacity to alter skin TRManamnestic responses without directly impacting TRMnumber and/or function, an observation that helps to further define the immunoparalysis phase in sepsis survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1006569
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017

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