Defects in innate and adaptive immunity in patients with sepsis and health care associated infection
Recent advances in sepsis therapy exclusively involve improvements in supportive care, while sepsis mortality rates remain disturbingly high at 30%. These persistently high sepsis mortality rates arise from the absence of sepsis specific therapies. However with improvements in supportive care, patients with septic shock commonly partially recover from the infection that precipitated their initial illness, yet they frequently succumb to subsequent health care associated infections. Remarkably today the pathophysiology of sepsis in humans, a common disease in western society, remains largely a conundrum. Conventionally sepsis was regarded as primarily a disorder of inflammation. More recently the importance of immune compromise in the pathophysiology of sepsis and health care associated infection has now become more widely accepted. Accordingly a review of the human evidence for this novel sepsis paradigm is timely. Septic patients appear to exhibit a complex and long-lasting immune deficiency state, involving lymphocytes of both the innate and adaptive immune responses that have been linked with mortality and the occurrence of health care associated infection. Such is the pervasive nature of immune compromise in sepsis that ultimately immune modulation will play a crucial role in sepsis therapies of the future.