Therapeutic effect of human ghrelin and growth hormone: Attenuation of immunosuppression in septic aged rats

Mian Zhou, Weng Lang Yang, Monowar Aziz, Gaifeng Ma, Ping Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Sepsis is a leading cause of mortality in intensive care units, and is more common in the geriatric population. The control of hyperinflammation has been suggested as a therapeutic approach in sepsis, but to date clinical trials utilizing this strategy have not lead to an effective treatment. In addition to hyperinflammation, patients with sepsis often experience a state of immunosuppression, which serves as an important determinant for increased morbidity and mortality. We previously used aged animals to demonstrate the effectiveness of combined treatment with human ghrelin (Ghr) and human growth hormone (GH) in improving organ injury and survival in septic animals. Here, we hypothesized that combined treatment with Ghr and GH could improve immune function in septic aged animals. Male 24-month-old rats were subjected to cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) for sepsis induction. Human Ghr (80 nmol/kg BW) plus GH (50 μg/kg BW) or vehicle (normal saline) was administrated subcutaneously at 5 h after CLP. The ex vivo production of TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-10 to LPS-stimulation, as well as TNF-α, IL-6, IL-10 and IFN-γ production to anti-CD3/anti-CD28 antibody-stimulation, in splenocytes isolated 20 h after CLP, was significantly decreased compared to production of these cytokines in splenocytes from sham animals. The production of cytokines from splenocytes isolated from septic animals that received the combined treatment, however, was significantly higher than from those isolated from vehicle-treated septic animals. Combined treatment prevented the loss of splenic CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in septic aged rats, and reduced lymphocyte apoptosis. Combined treatment also inhibited an increase in the regulatory T cell (Treg) population and expression of the immune co-inhibitory molecule PD-1 in the spleens of septic aged rats. In contrast, expression of HLA-DR was increased after combined treatment with Ghr and GH. Based on these findings, we conclude that co-administration of Ghr and GH is a promising therapeutic tool for reversing immunosuppression caused by sepsis in the geriatric population. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Immune and Metabolic Alterations in Trauma and Sepsis edited by Dr. Raghavan Raju.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2584-2593
Number of pages10
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Ghrelin
  • Growth hormone
  • Immunosuppression
  • Sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


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