Glucocorticoid receptors in severe inflammation Experimental and clinical studies
Sammanfattning: Septic shock is one of the most common causes of mortality in intensive care, in spite of antibiotic treatment. Glucocorticoid treatment can be used to blunt an overwhelming immune response in severe inflammation. The varying effects of glucocorticoid treatment in sepsis are poorly understood, with consequences for the clinical guidelines for treatment. Glucocorticoids are potent anti-inflammatory mediators which exert their effects through the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). Deeper understanding about the mechanisms of GR signalling may help to guide and improve glucocorticoid treatment. The aim of this thesis was to analyse GR expression and binding capacity in experimental and human septic shock and severe inflammation with cellular specificity using flow cytometry. In the late phase of a murine sepsis model, we observed decreased GR expression in leukocytes. In a murine model of early endotoxic shock, we observed decreased GR binding capacity in spite of an increased expression, in neutrophils. Glucocorticoid treatment was beneficial only when administered early in both models. Compared to healthy subjects, GR expression was increased in leukocytes from patients during the initial sepsis phase, while GR binding capacity was only increased in lymphocytes and monocytes. In contrast, neutrophils and other leukocyte subsets displayed decreased GR binding capacity. Neutrophil numbers were increased in all patients with sepsis compared to healthy subjects. We also studied patients with burn injury after admission before any infectious event had likely occurred, and on day 7 post admission, when several of the patients had been diagnosed with sepsis. GR expression and binding capacity was increased in leukocytes on admission as compared to healthy subjects, and patients diagnosed with sepsis on day 7 had a further increased GR expression in T lymphocytes. GR binding capacity was decreased in proportion to the extent of the burn injury on day 14 post admission. In conclusion, sepsis and severe inflammation have significant impact on the expression and function of GR, likely to influence the efficiency of glucocorticoid treatment. In addition, glucocorticoid treatment is beneficial only when given early in these models of experimental sepsis.
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