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Mol Med. 2012 Dec 20;18:1363-5. doi: 10.2119/molmed.2012.00300.

Moving from a cytotoxic to a cytokinic approach in the blood purification labyrinth: have we finally found Ariadne's thread?

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Intensivist University Hospital, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium.


For almost three decades, researchers have invested in strategies that involved removal of excess inflammatory mediators from the circulation (that is, the "cytotoxic" approach). Blood purification techniques using an extracorporeal device can indeed non-specifically remove a wide array of inflammatory mediators from the circulation. In animal models, this multimediator targeting or pleiotropic approach was shown to downregulate systemic inflammation and to restore immune homeostasis. In this issue, Namas et al. seriously challenge this cytotoxic hypothesis and propose to replace it by a cytokinic approach. In a rodent model of sepsis, these authors elegantly demonstrate that hemoadsorption using a large surface-area polymer could reduce and, more importantly, relocalize and reprogram sepsis-induced acute inflammation, while simultaneously lowering infectious burden and liver damage. Although challenging, this new theory can be considered complementary to the existing cytotoxic hypotheses by coupling reduced endothelial damage at the interstitial level (cytotoxic approach) with the concept of reprogramming leucocytes and mediators toward infected tissue, thus emptying the bloodstream of important promoters of remote organ damages (cytokinic approach).

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