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CD14+CD15-HLA-DR- myeloid-derived suppressor cells impair antimicrobial responses in patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Christine Bernsmeier, Evangelos Triantafyllou, Robert Brenig, Fanny J Lebosse, Arjuna Singanayagam, Vishal C Patel, Oltin T Pop, Wafa Khamri, Rooshi Nathwani, Robert Tidswell, Christopher J Weston, David H Adams, Mark R Thursz, Julia A Wendon, Charalambos Gustav Antoniades

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1155-1167
Issue number6
Early online date7 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

King's Authors


OBJECTIVE: Immune paresis in patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) accounts for infection susceptibility and increased mortality. Immunosuppressive mononuclear CD14+HLA-DR- myeloid-derived suppressor cells (M-MDSCs) have recently been identified to quell antimicrobial responses in immune-mediated diseases. We sought to delineate the function and derivation of M-MDSC in patients with ACLF, and explore potential targets to augment antimicrobial responses.

DESIGN: Patients with ACLF (n=41) were compared with healthy subjects (n=25) and patients with cirrhosis (n=22) or acute liver failure (n=30). CD14+CD15-CD11b+HLA-DR- cells were identified as per definition of M-MDSC and detailed immunophenotypic analyses were performed. Suppression of T cell activation was assessed by mixed lymphocyte reaction. Assessment of innate immune function included cytokine expression in response to Toll-like receptor (TLR-2, TLR-4 and TLR-9) stimulation and phagocytosis assays using flow cytometry and live cell imaging-based techniques.

RESULTS: Circulating CD14+CD15-CD11b+HLA-DR- M-MDSCs were markedly expanded in patients with ACLF (55% of CD14+ cells). M-MDSC displayed immunosuppressive properties, significantly decreasing T cell proliferation (p=0.01), producing less tumour necrosis factor-alpha/interleukin-6 in response to TLR stimulation (all p<0.01), and reduced bacterial uptake of Escherichia coli (p<0.001). Persistently low expression of HLA-DR during disease evolution was linked to secondary infection and 28-day mortality. Recurrent TLR-2 and TLR-4 stimulation expanded M-MDSC in vitro. By contrast, TLR-3 agonism reconstituted HLA-DR expression and innate immune function ex vivo.

CONCLUSION: Immunosuppressive CD14+HLA-DR- M-MDSCs are expanded in patients with ACLF. They were depicted by suppressing T cell function, attenuated antimicrobial innate immune responses, linked to secondary infection, disease severity and prognosis. TLR-3 agonism reversed M-MDSC expansion and innate immune function and merits further evaluation as potential immunotherapeutic agent.

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