Patients with large burn injuries are susceptible to opportunistic infections due to impaired functions of multiple effector cells of innate immunity and acquired immunity, including macrophages, dendritic cells (DC), natural killer (NK) cells, and T cells. The ability of a host to produce Th1 cytokines, such as gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and interleukin-12 (IL-12), upon infectious challenge is also impaired after burn injury. Stimulation of hematopoiesis, to regenerate new immune cells, may be an effective strategy for improving resistance to infections after severe burn trauma. Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt3L) is a hematopoietic cytokine that stimulates the expansion and differentiation of NK cells and DC. Using a mouse model, we tested the hypothesis that Flt3L treatments after burn injury stimulate the production of functional effector cells of innate immunity and restore appropriate Th1 cytokine responses to Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common source of pneumonia and wound infections in burn victims. Flt3L increased splenic cellularity in sham (uninjured) and burned mice and increased the numbers of NK cells (DX5+) and DC (CD11c+). In response to P. aeruginosa, significant increases in the serum IFN-γ levels and the numbers of splenic IFN-γ-producing DC, NK cells, and T cells were observed in Flt3L-treated burned mice compared to the values obtained for untreated burned mice. The splenic levels of IL-12 and IL-15 mRNAs and the IL-12 and IL-15 receptors were also increased. In addition, Flt3L treatment restored the ability of splenic cultures prepared from burned mice to produce IFN-γ and IL-12 after in vitro challenge with P. aeruginosa. Flt3L may have potential for restoring NK cell and DC functions and improving immunity after burn injury.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases