The macrophage-specific glycoprotein sCD163 has emerged as a biomarker of low-grade inflammation in the metabolic syndrome and related disorders. High sCD163 levels are seen in acute sepsis as a result of direct lipopolysaccharide-mediated shedding of the protein from macrophage surfaces including Kupffer cells. The aim of this study was to investigate if low-grade endotoxinemia in human subjects results in increasing levels of sCD163 in a cortisol-dependent manner.
We studied eight male hypopituitary patients and eight age- and gender-matched healthy controls during intravenous low-dose LPS or placebo infusion administered continuously over 360 min. Furthermore, we studied eight healthy volunteers with bilateral femoral vein and artery catheters during a 360-min infusion with saline and low-dose LPS in each leg respectively.
Systemic low-grade endotoxinemia resulted in a gradual increase in sCD163 from 1.65 ± 0.51 mg/L (placebo) to 1.92 ± 0.46 mg/L (LPS) at 220 min, P = 0.005 and from 1.66 ± 0.42 mg/L (placebo) to 2.19 ± 0.56 mg/L (LPS) at 340 min, P = 0.006. A very similar response was observed in hypopituitary patients: from 1.59 ± 0.53 mg/L (placebo) to 1.83 ± 0.45 mg/L (LPS) at 220 min, P = 0.021 and from 1.52 ± 0.53 mg/L (placebo) to 2.03 ± 0.44 mg/L (LPS) at 340 min, P < 0.001. As opposed to systemic treatment, continuous femoral artery infusion did not result in increased sCD163.
Systemic low-grade endotoxinemia resulted in increased sCD163 to levels seen in the metabolic syndrome in both controls and hypopituitary patients. This suggests a direct and cortisol-independent effect of LPS on the shedding of sCD163. We observed no effect of local endotoxinemia on levels of serum sCD163.