Sepsis syndrome is the leading cause of mortality in critically ill patients admitted to intensive care. However, current therapies for sepsis treatment are unsatisfactory, and the mortality rate is still high. The main pathological characteristics observed during sepsis syndrome and endotoxemia include hypotension, tachycardia, multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS), tissue damage, and cytokine and oxidative bursts. These conditions severely decrease the survival rates of endotoxemic patients. As a consequence of endotoxemia, large amounts of endotoxin circulate in the bloodstream throughout the vascular system and interact directly with endothelial cells that cover the inner wall of blood vessels. Endothelial cells exposed to lipopolysaccharides exhibit conversion to activated fibroblasts. By means of endotoxin-induced endothelial fibrosis, endothelial cells downregulate the expression of endothelial proteins and express fibrotic and ECM markers throughout endothelial protein expression reprogramming. Although endotoxin-induced endothelial fibrosis should, in theory, be detrimental to endothelial vascular function, the role of endothelial fibrosis in sepsis syndrome or endotoxemia is not known. Therefore, we employed a rat model to investigate whether the inhibition of endotoxin-induced endothelial fibrosis protects against endotoxemia and whether this inhibition increases survival. Our results show that the inhibition of endotoxin-induced endothelial fibrosis reduced both hypotension and tachycardia. Endotoxemia-induced MODS was also decreased when endothelial fibrosis was inhibited; treated rats showed normal kidney and liver function, inhibition of muscle mass wasting and normal glycemia. Liver and kidney histology was preserved, and organ fibrosis and fibrotic protein expression were reduced. Furthermore, pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion and NOX-2-mediated oxidative stress bursts were decreased when endothelial fibrosis was inhibited. Remarkably, the risk of death associated with sepsis syndrome at early and late time points was decreased when endotoxemia-induced endothelial fibrosis was inhibited, and a significant increase in survival was observed. These results reveal a potential novel treatment strategy to protect against sepsis syndrome and endotoxemia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology