New immune targets to improve survival from sepsis

In a pre-clinical study, researchers from the US set out to develop a treatment for sepsis. Here, Daniel Morales-Mantilla, Dr Robin Parihar and Dr Katherine King, from Baylor College of Medicine, describe how they utilised haematopoietic stem and progenitor cell infusion to improve the survival of mice from sepsis.

Sepsis accounts for up to 20 percent of deaths worldwide and one in three hospital deaths.1 Despite being a major global health concern, how to best treat sepsis is an area of active research and there remains a need for new therapeutic approaches to improve sepsis outcomes.

Though initiated by an infection process, sepsis is truly an immune phenomenon. While pathogens themselves can cause direct damage to tissues and organs, it is often the host immune system that drives organ damage and failure.2,4,6-9 Sepsis is characterised by a dysregulated immune response to infection, in which very high levels of pro-inflammatory signals disrupt circulation and cause multiorgan tissue damage.2,3 The longer the immune system stays overstimulated and overactivated, the less efficient the host becomes in fighting the infection, and damage to vital organs ensues.2-5 Thus, targeting key immune components that influence immune dysregulation during sepsis could serve as a new therapeutic approach to restoring balance, reducing hyperinflammation and preventing morbidity and mortality.