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1198 Platelet Factor 4 Enhances Antimicrobial Function of the Endothelium and Improves Outcome in a Murine Model of Sepsis

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 301. Vasculature, Endothelium, Thrombosis and Platelets: Basic and Translational: Poster I
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Fundamental Science, Research, Bleeding and Clotting, Translational Research, Diseases, immune mechanism, thrombotic disorders, Biological Processes, microbiome, pathogenesis
Saturday, December 9, 2023, 5:30 PM-7:30 PM

Anh T.P. Ngo, PhD1, Nate Levine1*, Abigail E Skidmore2*, Amrita Sarkar, PhD1, Veronica Bochenek, BA1*, Manuela Roggiani, PhD3*, Mark Goulian, PhD3*, Mortimer Poncz, MD1,4 and Kandace Gollomp, MD1,4

1Division of Hematology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
2Division of Hematology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Mount Laurel, NJ
3Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania School of Arts & Sciences, Philadelphia, PA
4Department of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania PSOM, Philadelphia, PA

Introduction: In this study, we investigated mechanism(s) by which the platelet-specific chemokine platelet factor 4 (PF4) interacts with bacteria to enhance host-defense function and improve outcome in sepsis. Sepsis, a life-threatening dysregulated response to infection, is the leading cause of mortality worldwide for which there are no targeted treatments. Upon sensing pathogens, platelets release high concentrations of PF4, a positively charged chemokine with high affinity for polyanions including polymers in the bacterial cell wall, the endothelial glycocalyx and cell-free DNA. We previously found that PF4 improves outcomes in the murine lipopolysaccharide endotoxemia and enhances in vitro bacterial capture by neutrophil extracellular traps. We now show that PF4-coating of bacteria reduces coagulopathy, limits bacterial dissemination, and improves survival in a murine model of polymicrobial sepsis, in part through the novel mechanism of enhancing the antimicrobial function of endothelial cells (ECs).

Methods: Effects of PF4 on bacterial internalization by ECs was assessed by incubating heat-inactivated Staphylococcus (S) aureus conjugated to pHrodo, a dye that only fluoresces following cellular internalization, with PF4 (0-100mg/mL) and then expose those complexes to human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) ± tumor necrosis factor a (TNFa) to simulate inflammation. Internalized S aureus fluorescent signal was visualized 16hr post-exposure. HUVECs were stained for von Willebrand factor (VWF) release to indicate bacteria-induced endothelial activation. Effects of PF4 on EC killing of bacteria was studied by exposing HUVECs to live Escherichia (E) coli pre-treated with PF4 (0-25mg/mL) for 1hr. ECs were washed to remove excess unbound bacteria, and cell lysates were plated on agar plates for 24hr to count colony forming units (CFUs).

To investigate the effects of PF4-bacteria interactions on sepsis survival outcomes, contents from the cecum (cecal slurry, CS) of C57BL6 donor mice (100mg/mL) were pre-treated with PF4 (100mg) for 20min and injected intravenously (IV) into wildtype (WT) or PF4-/- recipient mice to induce immediate bacteremia. Animals were evaluated for sepsis severity for up to 72hr, and survival analysis was performed using the Mantel-Cox test. A separate cohort of WT mice was given IV CS (400mg/mL) pre-incubated with PF4 (8mg). Blood was drawn at 3 to 24hr post-CS infusion and subjected to complete blood count. Thrombin anti-thrombin (TAT) and VWF levels were measured by ELISAs in plasma as indicators of intravascular coagulopathy and endothelial activation. To assess bacterial load, blood and liver and spleen homogenates were plated on agar plates to count for CFUs.

Results: PF4 coating of bacteria enhanced bacterial uptake by HUVECs, peaking at 20-50 µg/mL of PF4. TNFa-stimulated HUVECs more readily internalized PF4-coated bacteria at 1-20 µg/mL of PF4. Although PF4 promoted S aureus uptake, it limited bacteria-induced VWF secretion by HUVECs. PF4 also enhanced EC killing of E coli upon bacterial internalization. In the CS model of murine polymicrobial sepsis, PF4 prevented CS-induced mortality in both WT and PF4-/- mice (Fig. 1). PF4-pretreatment of CS also reduced leukopenia and thrombocytopenia 3-6hr post-CS challenge in WT mice. Mice given PF4-treated CS exhibited lower TAT and VWF levels as compared to untreated-CS animals. Lastly, PF4 reduced bacterial load in blood, liver, and spleen 24hr post-CS inoculation (Fig. 2).

Conclusion: PF4 enhances bacterial uptake and killing by the endothelium in vitro, promotes bacterial clearance while preventing bacteria-induced coagulopathy and endothelial dysfunction leading to improved survival in the murine CS model of polymicrobial sepsis. These studies suggest that PF4 binding to bacteria may be an important host defense mechanism. Further studies are underway to define the contribution of EC antimicrobial activity to the observed outcomes. The ability of PF4-based therapeutics to enhance clearance of microbes merits further translational studies in sepsis.

Disclosures: Poncz: Astra Zeneca: Research Funding.

*signifies non-member of ASH