Overexpression of the endothelial protein C receptor is detrimental during pneumonia-derived gram-negative sepsis (Melioidosis).
Kager LM., Schouten M., Wiersinga WJ., de Boer JD., Lattenist LCW., Roelofs JJTH., Meijers JCM., Levi M., Dondorp AM., Esmon CT., van 't Veer C., van der Poll T.
BACKGROUND: The endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR) enhances anticoagulation by accelerating activation of protein C to activated protein C (APC) and mediates anti-inflammatory effects by facilitating APC-mediated signaling via protease activated receptor-1. We studied the role of EPCR in the host response during pneumonia-derived sepsis instigated by Burkholderia (B.) pseudomallei, the causative agent of melioidosis, a common form of community-acquired Gram-negative (pneumo)sepsis in South-East Asia. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Soluble EPCR was measured in plasma of patients with septic culture-proven melioidosis and healthy controls. Experimental melioidosis was induced by intranasal inoculation of B. pseudomallei in wild-type (WT) mice and mice with either EPCR-overexpression (Tie2-EPCR) or EPCR-deficiency (EPCR(-/-)). Mice were sacrificed after 24, 48 or 72 hours. Organs and plasma were harvested to measure colony forming units, cellular influxes, cytokine levels and coagulation parameters. Plasma EPCR-levels were higher in melioidosis patients than in healthy controls and associated with an increased mortality. Tie2-EPCR mice demonstrated enhanced bacterial growth and dissemination to distant organs during experimental melioidosis, accompanied by increased lung damage, neutrophil influx and cytokine production, and attenuated coagulation activation. EPCR(-/-) mice had an unremarkable response to B. pseudomallei infection as compared to WT mice, except for a difference in coagulation activation in plasma. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: Increased EPCR-levels correlate with accelerated mortality in patients with melioidosis. In mice, transgenic overexpression of EPCR aggravates outcome during Gram-negative pneumonia-derived sepsis caused by B. pseudomallei, while endogenous EPCR does not impact on the host response. These results add to a better understanding of the regulation of coagulation during severe (pneumo)sepsis.