Secondary infections due to post-sepsis immunosuppression are a major cause of death in patients with sepsis. Strategies aimed at restoring immune functions offer a new perspective in the treatment of sepsis. In the present study, we used LPS (lipopolysaccharide)-immunosuppressed mice to analyse the effects of ATRA (all-trans retinoic acid) on different immune parameters. The IS (immunocompromised) group had decreased lymphocyte and increased MDSC (myeloid-derived suppressor cell) counts in lymph nodes. They also had an impaired in vitro T-cell proliferation, mediated by MDSCs. ATRA administration restored T-cell proliferation, which was associated with a decreased number of live MDSCs. The IS group treated with ATRA had an increased number of CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells. ATRA partially improved the primary humoral immune response, even when immunosuppression was established first and ATRA was administered subsequently. Our results demonstrate that ATRA restores immunocompetence by modulating the number of leucocytes and the survival of MDSCs, and thus represents an additional potential strategy in the treatment of the immunosuppressive state of sepsis.

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