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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

Vascular Endothelial Cells Activate Peripheral Natural Killer T Cells and Participate in Regulation of Downstream Immune Cascades in Patients with Sepsis

Bing Lin, Xinju Jia, Zuohua Xie, Ting Su, Ying Wei, Jiping Tang, Chengzhi Yang, Chuanbao Cui, Jinxiang Liu

Department of Intensive Medicine, Third Affiliated Hospital of Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, Guangxi, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2018; 24: CLR7387-7398

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.911466

Available online:

Published: 2018-10-16


BACKGROUND: This study investigated the effect of supernatant of endothelial cells stimulated by peripheral blood serum from sepsis patients on phenotype and function of peripheral NKT cells.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Twenty-one patients with sepsis and 21 healthy subjects were included. Peripheral blood (5 ml) was collected from all patients and healthy subjects. To isolate peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), Ficoll lymphocyte separation solution was used. Flow cytometry was carried out to determine NKT cell ratio, activity, and cytokine secretion. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells were cultured with serum from sepsis patients for 48 h before changing to fresh medium, and supernatant was collected. The supernatant was used to co-culture PBMCs before analyzing NKT activity and cytokines.
RESULTS: The ratios of CD3-CD56+NK cells and CD3+CD56+NKT cells were increased in peripheral blood from sepsis patients. Surface receptors p30, G2D, and p44 of CD3+CD56+NKT cells were elevated, while inhibitory receptors NKG2A and 158b were decreased. CD4+ NKT cells in peripheral blood from sepsis patients were enhanced. GranB, IFN-γ, IL-4, and IL-17 in NKT cells from sepsis patients were up-regulated. After co-culture with vascular endothelial cells treated with sepsis serum, expression of p30 and G2D in NKT cells was upregulated, and number of TCRVa24-positive cells was increased. In addition, ratio of CD4+NKT cells was increased, and intracellular expression of IL-4 and IFN-γ was elevated.
CONCLUSIONS: The study demonstrates that the level of NKT cells in peripheral blood from sepsis patients is increased, and their activity is enhanced. In addition, vascular endothelial cells from sepsis patients can regulate the activity of NKT cells.

Keywords: endothelial cells, Killer Cells, Natural, Sepsis