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Blood. 2003 May 15;101(10):3765-77. Epub 2003 Jan 23.

The role of the endothelium in severe sepsis and multiple organ dysfunction syndrome.

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  • Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. waird@caregroup.harvard.edu


Severe sepsis, defined as sepsis with acute organ dysfunction, is associated with high morbidity and mortality rates. The development of novel therapies for sepsis is critically dependent on an understanding of the basic mechanisms of the disease. The pathophysiology of severe sepsis involves a highly complex, integrated response that includes the activation of a number of cell types, inflammatory mediators, and the hemostatic system. Central to this process is an alteration of endothelial cell function. The goals of this article are to (1) provide an overview of sepsis and its complications, (2) discuss the role of the endothelium in orchestrating the host response in sepsis, and (3) emphasize the potential value of the endothelium as a target for sepsis therapy.

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