The adrenal stress response is an essential host response against therapy-induced lethal immune activation

Ling Guo, Weinan Wang, Qian Wang, Dan Hao, Misa Ito, Bin Huang, Chieko Mineo, Philip W. Shaul, Jaebok Choi, L. Frank Huang, Xiang An Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cytokine release syndrome (CRS) is a systemic inflammatory syndrome associated with infection- or druginduced T cell activation and can cause multiple organ failure and even death. Because current treatments are ineffective in some patients with severe CRS, we set out to identify risk factors and mechanisms behind severe CRS that might lead to preventive therapies and better clinical outcomes in patients. In mice, we found that deficiency in the adrenal stress response-with similarities to such in patients called relative adrenal insufficiency (RAI)-conferred a high risk for lethal CRS. Mice treated with CD3 antibodies were protected against lethal CRS by the production of glucocorticoids (GC) induced by the adrenal stress response in a manner dependent on the scavenger receptor B1 (SR-BI), a receptor for high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Mice with whole-body or adrenal gland-specific SR-BI deficiency exhibited impaired GC production, more severe CRS, and increased mortality in response to CD3 antibodies. Pretreatment with a low dose of GC effectively suppressed the development of CRS and rescued survival in SR-BI-deficient mice without compromising T cell function through apoptosis. Our findings suggest that RAI may be a risk factor for therapy-induced CRS and that pretreating RAI patients with GC may prevent lethal CRS.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereadd4900
JournalScience signaling
Issue number777
StatePublished - Mar 21 2023


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