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J Infect Dis. 2003 Jun 15;187 Suppl 2:S364-9.

Nuclear factor-kappaB and its role in sepsis-associated organ failure.

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  • 1Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA.


Nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB is involved in regulating the transcription of many of the immunomodulatory mediators involved in the development of sepsis-induced organ failure. Kinase pathways involving p38 and Akt and initiated by engagement of Toll-like receptors modulate transcriptional activity of NF-kappaB, but apparently through different mechanisms. Increased activation of NF-kappaB occurs with sepsis, and greater levels of nuclear accumulation of NF-kappaB are associated with higher rates of mortality and worse clinical outcome. The percentage of apoptotic neutrophils is reduced in sepsis, and inhibition of nuclear translocation of NF-kappaB restores neutrophil apoptosis to baseline levels. In models of sepsis, suppression of NF-kappaB activation decreases acute inflammatory processes and organ dysfunction. Because NF-kappaB occupies a central role in signaling pathways important in sepsis, modulation of NF-kappaB activity may be an appropriate therapeutic target in patients with sepsis.

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