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EBioMedicine ; 80: 104057, 2022 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1867074


BACKGROUND: Reduced glucocorticoid-receptor (GR) expression in blood suggested that critically ill patients become glucocorticoid-resistant necessitating stress-doses of glucocorticoids. We hypothesised that critical illness evokes a tissue-specific, time-dependent expression of regulators of GR-action which adaptively guides glucocorticoid action to sites of need. METHODS: We performed a prospective, observational, cross-sectional human study and two translational mouse studies. In freshly-isolated neutrophils and monocytes and in skeletal muscle and subcutaneous adipose tissue of 137 critically ill patients and 20 healthy controls and in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue as well as in vital tissues (heart, lung, diaphragm, liver, kidney) of 88 septic and 26 healthy mice, we quantified gene expression of cortisone-reductase 11ß-HSD1, glucocorticoid-receptor-isoforms GRα and GRß, GRα-sensitivity-regulating-co-chaperone FKBP51, and GR-action-marker GILZ. Expression profiles were compared in relation to illness-duration and systemic-glucocorticoid-availability. FINDINGS: In patients' neutrophils, GRα and GILZ were substantially suppressed (p≤0·05) throughout intensive care unit (ICU)-stay, while in monocytes low/normal GRα coincided with increased GILZ (p≤0·05). FKBP51 was increased transiently (neutrophils) or always (monocytes,p≤0·05). In patients' muscle, 11ß-HSD1 and GRα were low-normal (p≤0·05) and substantially suppressed in adipose tissue (p≤0·05); FKBP51 and GILZ were increased in skeletal muscle (p≤0·05) but normal in adipose tissue. GRß was undetectable. Increasing systemic glucocorticoid availability in patients independently associated with further suppressed muscle 11ß-HSD1 and GRα, further increased FKBP51 and unaltered GILZ (p≤0·05). In septic mouse heart and lung, 11ß-HSD1, FKBP51 and GILZ were always high (p≤0·01). In heart, GRα was suppressed (p≤0·05), while normal or high in lung (all p≤0·05). In diaphragm, 11ß-HSD1 was high/normal, GRα low/normal and FKBP51 and GILZ high (p≤0·01). In kidney, 11ß-HSD1 transiently increased but decreased thereafter, GRα was normal and FKBP51 and GILZ high (p≤0·01). In liver, 11ß-HSD1 was suppressed (p≤0·01), GRα normal and FKBP51 high (p≤0·01) whereas GILZ was transiently decreased but elevated thereafter (p≤0·05). Only in lung and diaphragm, treatment with hydrocortisone further increased GILZ. INTERPRETATION: Tissue-specific, time-independent adaptations to critical illness guided GR-action predominantly to vital tissues such as lung, while (partially) protecting against collateral harm in other cells and tissues, such as neutrophils. These findings argue against maladaptive generalised glucocorticoid-resistance necessitating glucocorticoid-treatment. FUNDING: Research-Foundation-Flanders, Methusalem-Program-Flemish-Government, European-Research-Council, European-Respiratory-Society.

Glucocorticoids , Receptors, Glucocorticoid , 11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1/genetics , 11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1/metabolism , Animals , Critical Illness , Cross-Sectional Studies , Gene Expression , Humans , Mice , Prospective Studies , Receptors, Glucocorticoid/genetics , Receptors, Glucocorticoid/metabolism
Clin Transl Immunology ; 10(4): e1271, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1525427


OBJECTIVES: Emerging evidence of dysregulation of the myeloid cell compartment urges investigations on neutrophil characteristics in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We isolated neutrophils from the blood of COVID-19 patients receiving general ward care and from patients hospitalised at intensive care units (ICUs) to explore the kinetics of circulating neutrophils and factors important for neutrophil migration and activation. METHODS: Multicolour flow cytometry was exploited for the analysis of neutrophil differentiation and activation markers. Multiplex and ELISA technologies were used for the quantification of protease, protease inhibitor, chemokine and cytokine concentrations in plasma. Neutrophil polarisation responses were evaluated microscopically. Gelatinolytic and metalloproteinase activity in plasma was determined using a fluorogenic substrate. Co-culturing healthy donor neutrophils with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) allowed us to investigate viral replication in neutrophils. RESULTS: Upon ICU admission, patients displayed high plasma concentrations of granulocyte-colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) and the chemokine CXCL8, accompanied by emergency myelopoiesis as illustrated by high levels of circulating CD10-, immature neutrophils with reduced CXCR2 and C5aR expression. Neutrophil elastase and non-metalloproteinase-derived gelatinolytic activity were increased in plasma from ICU patients. Significantly higher levels of circulating tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP-1) in patients at ICU admission yielded decreased total MMP proteolytic activity in blood. COVID-19 neutrophils were hyper-responsive to CXCL8 and CXCL12 in shape change assays. Finally, SARS-CoV-2 failed to replicate inside human neutrophils. CONCLUSION: Our study provides detailed insights into the kinetics of neutrophil phenotype and function in severe COVID-19 patients, and supports the concept of an increased neutrophil activation state in the circulation.