Methods: We performed a prospective observational study in five medical ICUs. Immunological gene expression profiles in the blood of VAP patients were compared with those of controls by using whole transcriptome microarrays and droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) in the first 24 hours following diagnosis.
Results: VAP patients showed significantly lower expression levels of HLA-DOA, HLA-DMA, HLA-DMB, ICOS, ICOSLG, IL2RA, CD1, CD3, CD28 and CD40LG. The molecules coded by these genes participate of the immunological synapse. CD1C, CD40LG and ICOS showed the highest values of area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) with a good balance between sensibility and specificity.
Conclusions: Patients with VAP show a transcriptomic depression of genes participating of the immunological synapse. It takes a commonplace event, namely VAP, and highlights a quite significant underlying immune suppressive state. In effect this small study will change how we regard VAP, and proposes that we regard it as an infection in an immune compromised host, and that immunity has a central role for ICU acquired infections. This may in time change clinical practice, as it has profound implications for the role of protocolised care, or bundles, in the prevention of VAP. Quantifying the expression in blood of this genes using ddPCR could be a useful approach for the diagnosis of VAP.
- Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP); immunological synapse; microarrays; droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR)