Critical care medicine

Hydrocortisone prevents immunosuppression by interleukin-10+ natural killer cells after trauma-hemorrhage.

PMID 25289930


Trauma induces a state of immunosuppression, which is responsible for the development of nosocomial infections. Hydrocortisone reduces the rate of pneumonia in patients with trauma. Because alterations of dendritic cells and natural killer cells play a central role in trauma-induced immunosuppression, we investigated whether hydrocortisone modulates the dendritic cell/natural killer cell cross talk in the context of posttraumatic pneumonia. Experimental study. Research laboratory from an university hospital. Bagg Albino/cJ mice (weight, 20-24 g). First, in an a priori substudy of a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of hydrocortisone (200 mg/d for 7 d) in patients with severe trauma, we have measured the blood levels of five cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-6, interleukin-10, interleukin-12, interleukin-17) at day 1 and day 8. In a second step, the effects of hydrocortisone on dendritic cell/natural killer cell cross talk were studied in a mouse model of posttraumatic pneumonia. Hydrocortisone (0.6 mg/mice i.p.) was administered immediately after hemorrhage. Twenty-four hours later, the mice were challenged with Staphylococcus aureus (7 × 10 colony-forming units). Using sera collected during a multicenter study in patients with trauma, we found that hydrocortisone decreased the blood level of interleukin-10, a cytokine centrally involved in the regulation of dendritic cell/natural killer cell cluster. In a mouse model of trauma-hemorrhage-induced immunosuppression, splenic natural killer cells induced an interleukin-10-dependent elimination of splenic dendritic cell. Hydrocortisone treatment reduced this suppressive function of natural killer cells and increased survival of mice with posthemorrhage pneumonia. The reduction of the interleukin-10 level in natural killer cells by hydrocortisone was partially dependent on the up-regulation of glucocorticoid-induced tumor necrosis factor receptor-ligand (TNFsf18) on dendritic cell. These data demonstrate that trauma-induced immunosuppression is characterized by an interleukin-10-dependent elimination of dendritic cell by natural killer cells and that hydrocortisone improves outcome by limiting this immunosuppressive feedback loop.