The immunological hallmarks of sepsis include the inflammation-mediated cytokine storm, apoptosis-driven lymphopenia, and prolonged immunoparalysis. Although early clinical efforts were focused on increasing the survival of patients through the first phase, studies are now shifting attention to the long-term effects of sepsis on immune fitness in survivors. In particular, the most pertinent task is deciphering how the immune system becomes suppressed, leading to increased incidence of secondary infections. In this review, we introduce the contribution of numerical changes and functional reprogramming within innate (NK cells, dendritic cells) and adaptive (T cells, B cells) immune cells on the chronic immune dysregulation in the septic murine and human host. We briefly discuss how prior immunological experience in murine models impacts sepsis severity, immune dysfunction, and clinical relevance. Finally, we dive into how comorbidities, specifically autoimmunity and cancer, can influence host susceptibility to sepsis and the associated immune dysfunction.

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