Ligands of the endothelial-enriched tunica interna endothelial cell kinase 2 (Tie2) are markedly imbalanced in severe infections associated with vascular leakage, yet regulation of the receptor itself has been understudied in this context. Here, we show that TIE2 gene expression may constitute a novel vascular barrier control mechanism in diverse infections. Tie2 expression declined rapidly in wide-ranging models of leak-associated infections, including anthrax, influenza, malaria, and sepsis. Forced Tie2 suppression sufficed to attenuate barrier function and sensitize endothelium to permeability mediators. Rapid reduction of pulmonary Tie2 in otherwise healthy animals attenuated downstream kinase signaling to the barrier effector vascular endothelial (VE)-cadherin and induced vascular leakage. Compared with wild-type littermates, mice possessing one allele of Tie2 suffered more severe vascular leakage and higher mortality in two different sepsis models. Common genetic variants that influence TIE2 expression were then sought in the HapMap3 cohort. Remarkably, each of the three strongest predicted cis-acting SNPs in HapMap3 was also associated with the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in an intensive care unit cohort of 1,614 subjects. The haplotype associated with the highest TIE2 expression conferred a 28% reduction in the risk of ARDS independent of other major clinical variables, including disease severity. In contrast, the most common haplotype was associated with both the lowest TIE2 expression and 31% higher ARDS risk. Together, the results implicate common genetic variation at the TIE2 locus as a determinant of vascular leak-related clinical outcomes from common infections, suggesting new tools to identify individuals at unusual risk for deleterious complications of infection.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Mar 1 2016|
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