We have, for as long as I can remember, repeated the mantra that infections in diabetes are worsened by “blunted immunity”. Here is a case that might RAGE against that theory from our SALSAmigo, Prof. Brad Spellberg and coworkers.
This work fits well with previous works showing long-standing low-grade hyperinflammation in chronic wounds which, we’ve believed, could set people up for acute-on-chronic complications like infection.
For more than a century, diabetic patients have been considered immunosuppressed due to defects in phagocytosis and microbial killing. We confirmed that diabetic mice were hypersusceptible to bacteremia caused by Gram-negative bacteria (GNB), dying at inocula nonlethal to nondiabetic mice. Contrary to the pervasive paradigm that diabetes impedes phagocytic function, the bacterial burden was no greater in diabetic mice despite excess mortality. However, diabetic mice did exhibit dramatically increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines in response to GNB infections, and immunosuppressing these cytokines with dexamethasone restored their resistance to infection, both of which are consistent with excess inflammation. Furthermore, disruption of the receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE), which is stimulated by heightened levels of AGEs in diabetic hosts, protected diabetic but not nondiabetic mice from GNB infection. Thus, rather than immunosuppression, diabetes drives lethal hyperinflammation in response to GNB by signaling through RAGE. As such, interventions to improve the outcomes from GNB infections should seek to suppress the immune response in diabetic hosts.