Patients with diabetes mellitus are considered to be at increased risk for infections and often experience more serious and prolonged infections. Defects in neutrophil microbicidal function have been identified in diabetic patients and are believed to contribute to this problem. Neutrophil apoptosis or programmed cell death regulates functional longevity, and is an integral component of inflammation and its resolution. It remains unknown whether neutrophils from diabetic patients demonstrate defects in apoptosis.
Neutrophils from diabetic patients have defects in spontaneous and/or endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide [LPS])–induced apoptosis.
Peripheral venous blood samples were collected from healthy volunteers and insulin-dependent diabetic patients to harvest neutrophils for in vitro study.
Interventions and Main Outcome Measures
Neutrophils were cultured for 0 and 24 hours in the absence and presence of LPS. Normal neutrophils were also cultured under conditions of normal or high glucose concentration. Percentage of apoptotic cells was determined by flow cytometry.
Normal neutrophils undergo significant apoptosis after 24 hours, and the percentage of apoptotic cells is reduced in the presence of LPS. Diabetic neutrophils undergo normal spontaneous apoptosis, but do not demonstrate LPS-induced inhibition of apoptosis. The LPS-induced inhibition of apoptosis in normal neutrophils is prevented under high-glucose conditions.
Neutrophils from diabetic patients demonstrated defects in LPS-induced apoptosis. High-glucose environment may mediate these findings. The inability of diabetic neutrophils to reduce apoptosis following LPS exposure resulted in relatively increased apoptosis. This would cause decreased functional longevity of neutrophils and increased neutrophil clearance from infectious sites, possibly contributing to the increased susceptibility and severity of infections in diabetic patients.