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Crit Rev Biomed Eng. 2012;40(4):341-51.

Sepsis: from pattern to mechanism and back.

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Department of Surgery, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Sepsis is a clinical entity in which complex inflammatory and physiological processes are mobilized, not only across a range of cellular and molecular interactions, but also in clinically relevant physiological signals accessible at the bedside. There is a need for a mechanistic understanding that links the clinical phenomenon of physiologic variability with the underlying patterns of the biology of inflammation, and we assert that this can be facilitated through the use of dynamic mathematical and computational modeling. An iterative approach of laboratory experimentation and mathematical/computational modeling has the potential to integrate cellular biology, physiology, control theory, and systems engineering across biological scales, yielding insights into the control structures that govern mechanisms by which phenomena, detected as biological patterns, are produced. This approach can represent hypotheses in the formal language of mathematics and computation, and link behaviors that cross scales and domains, thereby offering the opportunity to better explain, diagnose, and intervene in the care of the septic patient.

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