Though it has long been thought that the immune system is implicated in the pathophysiology of heat stroke, the underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood. As it has been reported in the literature that lymphocyte disturbance occurs in heat stroke patients or animals, we attempted to seek experimental evidence to define the role of lymphocytes in the pathophysiology of heat stroke. In our study, we used male Balb/c mice to establish a passive heat stroke model. We found that lymphocyte-deficient Severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice exposed to heat stress exhibited exacerbated heat stroke severity, which could be indicated by increased rates of mortality and serum levels of inflammatory cytokines compared to wildtype control mice. We further showed, through the depletion of T lymphocytes in wildtype mice and the transfer of wildtype lymphocytes into SCID mice, respectively, that T lymphocytes were both necessary and sufficient to alleviate the severity of heat stroke by inhibiting the early inflammatory response. Moreover, we found that the severity of heat injuries in heat-stressed wildtype mice showed great inter-individual variability, and the early number of T lymphocytes could be negatively associated with the severity of heat stroke. Our results suggest that lack of T lymphocytes could exacerbate the severity of heat stroke by augmenting inflammatory response, and the early circulating T lymphocytes may serve as a potential biomarker for the diagnosis of heat stroke.Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.
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