This pilot clinical study was conducted on twelve consecutive septic shock patients admitted to the intensive care unit of the Edouard Herriot Hospital (Hospices Civils de Lyon, Lyon, France). This project is part of a global study in sepsis-induced immune dysfunctions (IMMUNOSEPSIS cohort, #NCT04067674). Diagnostic criteria for septic shock was based on the Sepsis-3 definition (10). Exclusion criteria disqualified patients under 18 years of age and subjects with aplasia or pre-existent immunosuppression as defined by preexistent immunosuppressive treatment including corticosteroids at an immunosuppressive dosage (> 10 mg equivalent prednisone/day and cumulative dose >700 mg), ongoing hematological disease or within 5 years preceding inclusion, solid tumor under chemotherapy or in remission, innate immune deficit, extracorporeal circulation within one month before inclusion (cardiac surgery or ECMO). Samples of peripheral blood were collected at day 3–4 after the onset of septic shock in heparin coated tubes. The immunosuppressive state of septic patients was verified by measuring decreased HLA-DR expression on monocytes (mHLA-DR) expressed as a number of antibodies bound per cell (AB/C, see reference for standardized laboratory protocol) and CD4+ T lymphocyte count (11). Clinical parameters were collected during the follow-up period (until 28 days).

This non-interventional study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki, under terms of all relevant local legislation and was approved by our Institutional Review Board for Ethics [“Comité de Protection des Personnes Ouest II - Angers” – n° RCB: 2019-A00210-57, n° CPP: 19.01.23. 71857 (2019/11)], which waived the need for informed consent, as the study was observational and performed on residual blood after the completion of routine follow-up. Patients or next-of-kin were systematically informed of the study and non-opposition to inclusion in the study was systematically obtained and registered for each patient. Residual samples were stored within a blood collection registered at French Ministry of Research and Education (#DC-2008-509) and at the “Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés”. Peripheral blood from healthy volunteers (HV) was provided by the “Etablissement Français du Sang” (EFS) from Lyon. According to EFS standardized procedures for blood donation and to provisions of the articles R.1243–49 and following ones of the French public health code, a written non-opposition to the use of donated blood for research purposes was obtained from HV. The blood donors’ personal data were anonymized before transfer to our research laboratory.

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