SEP 07, 2017 2:50 PM PDT

Fixing What Goes Wrong During Sepsis

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

A lot of things go wrong during sepsis, but one of the worst is heart complications. In the past researchers determined that boosting energy production in the heart could help, but they didn’t know why. The most recent study, from the same group of scientists, provides an explanation and a plan of action.

3D rendering of mouse brain cortex. Credit: Antonino Paolo Di Giovanna

Sepsis is an extreme overreaction to a bacterial infection, causing blood clots, faulty blood vessels, and organ failure. Heart complications are responsible for 80 percent of sepsis-related deaths, and scientists from Temple University want to alleviate some of the devastation with their new findings.

What happens to the heart during sepsis? It becomes weak and fails to generate enough energy to pump effectively due to systemic inflammation. When the heart can’t pump effectively, oxygenated blood doesn’t make it to the cells and tissues of the body, and organ failure ensues. The new Temple University study began to identify and explain the mechanism responsible for the heart’s loss of energy during sepsis. If they can prevent the heart from losing energy, they could potentially increase the amount of time anti-inflammatory drugs have to be effective to treat sepsis.

“Anti-inflammatory therapies fail to improve survival,” explained senior investigator Konstantinos Drosatos, PhD. “We think that this happens because there simply is not enough time for the anti-inflammatory drugs to begin working before critical organs begin to fail."

Konstantinos and her team worked with a mouse model of sepsis, treating heart muscle cells with lipopolysaccharide, an endotoxin produced by many types of bacteria that triggers the immune system and induces sepsis. However, they blocked activation of NADPH oxidase 2 (NOX2), an enzyme active during infections that can become toxic if overproduced. They knew to do so because of its connection to boosting oxidative stress in the heart.

"Increased levels of reactive oxygen species are a key feature of cardiac dysfunction during sepsis," Drosatos explained. "Mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of cells, are especially vulnerable to damage from reactive molecules, and this seems to be critical for energy production in the heart and maybe other organs."

Inhibiting the activity of NOX2 lowered oxidative stress in the face of sepsis, and it boosted the heart’s ability to produce energy. Drosatos believes that blocking NOX2 along with applying traditional drugs could increase survival following sepsis and wants to pursue human clinical trials in the near future.

"With our latest findings, supportive and anti-inflammatory treatments would remain a mainstay,” Drosatos explained. “But by also ensuring that the heart is producing energy, we could provide extra time for the treatments to work before the heart fails.”

The present study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight.

Sources: MedlinePlus, Journal of Endotoxin Research, Cellular & Molecular Immunology, Temple University Health System

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JAN 06, 2020
Cardiology
JAN 06, 2020
Online Therapy Treats Depression in Heart Disease Patients
People suffering from cardiovascular disease (CVD) often suffer from depression too- something that can lead to a viciou ...
FEB 21, 2020
Cardiology
FEB 21, 2020
Longer Sitting Times Linked to Developing Heart Disease
Longer sitting times has been associated with a higher risk of developing heart disease among overweight and obese women ...
MAR 20, 2020
Cardiology
MAR 20, 2020
Exercise For Persons With COPD
The thought of starting an exercise program can be daunting, particularly for those who have been diagnosed with chronic ...
APR 10, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
APR 10, 2020
Cardiac Patch Repairs Heart Attack Damage in Pigs and Rats
Heart attacks significantly damage cardiac tissue. Recovery time frames from a heart attack thus depend on the extent to ...
APR 11, 2020
Cardiology
APR 11, 2020
Cell Transplant Repairs Brain After Stroke
Using cell therapy, researchers from Lund University in Sweden have successfully restored mobility and a sense of touch ...
MAY 15, 2020
Cardiology
MAY 15, 2020
Cardiovascular Disease Mortality is Greater in Rural Areas
A wide variation in cardiovascular disease mortality rates has been noted among counties in the United States. Residents ...
Loading Comments...