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Shock. 2004 Jun;21(6):566-71.

Increased lymphoid tissue apoptosis in baboons with bacteremic shock.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA.


The molecular mechanisms of immune cell apoptosis during sepsis remain unclear. Two young adult baboons (Papio sp.) received a lethal dose of live Escherichia coli and were sacrificed at either 16 (for animal welfare concerns) or 24 h post-septic shock. An additional baboon, which received no bacteria, served as a control. Necropsy was performed immediately with subsequent immunohistochemical staining of lymphoid tissue. Immunohistologic analysis of tissues from the septic baboons revealed marked systemic lymphocyte apoptosis occurring in all lymphoid tissues examined. Focally, pyknotic and karyorrhectic lymphocytes demonstrated activation of a mitochondrial-dependent cell death pathway (active caspase 9 and apoptosis-inducing factor). Other regions demonstrated apoptotic lymphocytes with activation of a death receptor-dependent cell pathway (Fas ligand). Thus, we have demonstrated for the first time in primates that overwhelming gram-negative bacteremia produces an early and profound lymphocyte death that occurs through multiple cell death pathways. Bacteremic shock in the baboon may be an appropriate model for studying experimental therapies aimed at blocking lymphocyte apoptosis because their response appears comparable to humans dying from sepsis.

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