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Mitochondrion. 2004 Sep;4(5-6):729-41. Epub 2004 Oct 2.

Mitochondrial dysfunction in septic shock and multiple organ dysfunction syndrome.

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  • Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, The Ohio State University Medical Center, 201 Dorothy M. Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute, 473 West 12th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210-1252, USA. crouser-1@medctr.osu.edu9


Sepsis is the leading cause of death in medical intensive care units. In most fatal cases of sepsis the patient experiences an insidious, progressive decline in vital organ function, i.e. multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS), which is commonly associated with signs of accelerated anaerobic metabolism despite supernormal systemic oxygen delivery. Based on this clinical scenario, tissue hypoxia has long been considered the putative mechanism of MODS. However, efforts to enhance tissue oxygenation during severe sepsis have proved ineffective, and a growing body of evidence indicates that mitochondria contribute significantly to the pathogenesis of sepsis-induced MODS. In addition to dysregulation of oxygen metabolism ('cytopathic hypoxia'), sepsis-induced mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to organ injury through accelerated oxidant production and by promoting cell death. Advances in our understanding of the mechanisms of mitochondrial damage and in its detection could revolutionize the management of this devastating disease.

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