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Critical Reviews™ in Immunology

Impact factor: 3.698

ISSN Print: 1040-8401
ISSN Online: 2162-6472

Critical Reviews™ in Immunology

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevImmunol.2015015461
pages 277-291

Pathogenesis of Multiple Organ Failure in Sepsis

Jan Rossaint
Department of Anaesthesiology, Intensive Care and Pain Medicine, University Hospital Munster, Munster, Germany
Alexander Zarbock
Department of Anaesthesiology, Intensive Care and Pain Medicine, University Hospital Munster, Munster, Germany

ABSTRACT

Sepsis is a severe critical illness syndrome that arises from infectious insults. While the host immune system is generally beneficial, an overshooting and unregulated immune response can cause serious organ tissue injury. During sepsis, systemic hypotension, disturbed perfusion of the microcirculation, and direct tissue-toxicity caused by inflammatory immune reaction can occur and contribute to organ failure. The failure of two or more vital organ systems is termed multi-organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) and resembles a very critical condition associated with high morbidity and mortality. Importantly, no specific treatment strategy exists to efficiently prevent the development of MODS during sepsis. In this review, we aim to identify the relevant molecular immunological pathways involved in the pathogenesis of MODS during sepsis. We believe that a detailed understanding of this mechanism is necessary for the development of new treatment approaches for septic patients. In particular, knowledge of the endogenous regulators keeping the balance between necessary immune system activation to combat infections and prevention of host tissue damage would greatly improve the chances for the development of effective interventions.