- Severe sepsis leads to long-term alterations in the immune response of surviving individuals. We have modeled this alteration in host immunity by studying the survivors of severe experimental sepsis (murine cecal ligation and puncture), which were subsequently challenged with lung granuloma-inducing Schistosoma mansoni eggs. This granulomatous response is a well-studied cell-mediated immune reaction characterized by elevated levels of type-2 cytokines. Pulmonary granulomas induced by S. mansoni eggs in cecal ligation and puncture survivors were significantly larger and contained more eosinophils than granulomas in sham-operated mice. Significantly lower interleukin (IL)-12p40 mRNA and IL-12p70 protein levels were observed in the lungs of postseptic mice with developing granulomas, compared with controls. Postseptic mice had significantly fewer dendritic cells in the lungs during the granulomatous response. Isolated lung dendritic cells from postseptic mice at days 8 and 16 after S. mansoni egg challenge exhibited defective IL-12 synthesis but enhanced IL-10 synthesis after Toll-like receptor agonist challenge. Pulmonary transfection with an IL-12-expressing adenovirus in postseptic mice reversed the skewing of the pulmonary cytokine profile and normalized the lung granulomatous response. Our data indicate that severe sepsis shifts the pulmonary cytokine environment, presumably via effects on pulmonary dendritic cells, which in turn alters the lung cell-mediated immune response.