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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2005 Oct;289(4):R1048-53. Epub 2005 Jun 9.

Early antibiotic administration but not antibody therapy directed against IL-6 improves survival in septic mice predicted to die on basis of high IL-6 levels.

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Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Ave., Campus Box 8109, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Elevated interleukin (IL)-6 levels correlate with increased mortality following sepsis. IL-6 levels >14,000 pg/ml drawn 6 h after cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) are associated with 100% mortality in ND4 mice, even if antibiotic therapy is initiated 12 h after septic insult. Our first aim was to see whether earlier institution of antibiotic therapy could improve overall survival in septic mice and rescue the subset of animals predicted to die on the basis of high IL-6 levels. Mice (n = 184) were subjected to CLP, had IL-6 levels drawn 6 h later, and then were randomized to receive imipenem, a broad spectrum antimicrobial agent, beginning 6 or 12 h postoperatively. Overall 1-wk survival improved from 25.5 to 35.9% with earlier administration of antibiotics (P < 0.05). In mice with IL-6 levels >14,000 pg/ml, 25% survived if imipenem was started at 6 h, whereas none survived if antibiotics were started later (P < 0.05). On the basis of these results, we examined whether targeted antibody therapy could improve survival in mice with elevated IL-6 levels. A different cohort of mice (n = 54) had blood drawn 6 h after CLP, and then they were randomized to receive either monoclonal anti-IL-6 IgG or irrelevant rat IgG. Anti-IL-6 antibody failed to improve either overall survival or outcome in mice with IL-6 levels >14,000 pg/ml. These results demonstrate that earlier systemic therapy can improve outcome in a subset of mice predicted to die in sepsis, but we are unable to demonstrate any benefit in similar animals using targeted therapy directed at IL-6.

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