Skip to content


Critical Care

Volume 12 Supplement 5

Sepsis 2008

Open Access

Pulmonary macrophage migration inhibitory factor: an important contributor to age-dependent inflammation in sepsis

  • Helena Linge1,
  • Xinchun Lin1,
  • Koichiro Takahashi1,
  • Yinzhong Zhang1,
  • Kiyokazu Koga1,
  • Vihas Vasu2,
  • Yousef Al-Abed1,
  • Kishorchandra Gohil2 and
  • Edmund Miller1
Critical Care200812(Suppl 5):P14

Published: 18 November 2008


Migration Inhibitory FactorLipoteichoic AcidMacrophage Migration Inhibitory FactorTranscriptomic ResponsePulmonary Macrophage


Sepsis, the progressive, systemic host response to infection, kills over 215,000 individuals annually in the United States, and the mortality rate increases greatly with age. A recent ICU survey of sepsis occurrence in acutely ill patients identified the major site of infection as the lung (68%), Staphylococcus aureus as the most common infecting agent (30%), and the median patient age as 64 years. We therefore developed a rodent model using S. aureus cell wall components lipoteichoic acid (LTA) and peptidoglycan G (PGN) instilled into the lungs to study age-related changes in pulmonary infection and sepsis.


Male Fischer 344 rats (Harlan Inc., Indianapolis, IN, USA); C57Bl/6 mice, wild-type (mif+/+) and migration inhibitory factor (MIF) gene-deficient (mif-/-) (Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, NY, USA); LTA and PGN (Sigma-Aldrich Co., St Louis, MO, USA); ELISA Assays (R&D Systems, Minneapolis, MN, USA); high-density oligonucleotide expression microarrays (GeneChips; Affymetrix Inc., Santa Clara, CA, USA).


Saline alone (control) or LTA 1.5 mg/kg and PGN 5 mg/kg were instilled intratracheally into Fischer 344 rats 6, 18, or 24 months old (equating approximately to humans of 18, 45 and 60 years). After 6 hours, the animals were euthanized, blood collected from the left atrium, and the lungs lavaged with saline (bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL)). To further characterize the contributions of MIF following LTA-PGN challenge, we used GeneChips to obtain a description of the global transcriptomic response of lungs from mif+/+ and mif-/- mice 6 hours post LTA-PGN.


There were significant age-related increases in lung compliance and BAL protein content (sham, 0.2 ± 0.01; 6 months, 1.2 ± 1.4; 18 months, 5.2 ± 0.7; 24 months, 4.8 ± 0.4 mg/ml), suggesting a more severe injury in the older age groups. BAL concentrations of GRO-KC (CXCL1) (sham, 0.13 ± 0.03; 6 months, 2.46 ± 0.79; 18 months, 2.89 ± 0.50; 24 months, 4.02 ± 1.54 ng/ml) and IL-6 (sham, 0.1 ± 0.1; 6 months, 5.2 ± 5.6; 18 months, 14.2 ± 2.3; 24 months, 13.0 ± 6.8 ng/ml), and blood MIF concentrations around threefold higher in the older rats suggest an age-dependent increase in inflammatory response. Comparative analysis of lung transcriptomes (~8,500 mRNAs) of the mice suggested a larger response in mif-/- mice of genes regulated by NFκB.


These observations suggest, for the first time, a role for MIF–NFκB molecular circuitry modulating cardiopulmonary system responses following pulmonary infection. Since MIF can cause cardiac dysfunction, the increased MIF response during sepsis in the older individual may be responsible for an increased mortality in this patient population.

Authors’ Affiliations

The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, New York, USA
Genomics and Biomedical Facilities, Internal Medicine, University of California, Davis, USA


© Linge et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2008

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.