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Cytopathic hypoxia in sepsis.

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston MA, USA.


Diminished availability of oxygen at the cellular level might account for organ dysfunction in sepsis. Although the classical forms of tissue hypoxia due to hypoxemia, anemia, or inadequate perfusion all might be important under some conditions, it seems increasingly likely that a fourth mechanism, namely cytopathic hypoxia, might play a role as well. The term cytopathic hypoxia is used to denote diminished production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) despite normal (or even supranormal) PO2 values in the vicinity of mitochondria within cells. At least in theory, cytopathic hypoxia could be a consequence of several different (but mutually compatible) pathogenic mechanisms, including diminished delivery of a key substrate (e.g., pyruvate) into the mitochondrial tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, inhibition of key mitochondrial enzymes involved in either the TCA cycle or the electron transport chain, activation of the enzyme, poly-(ADP)-ribosylpolymerase (PARP), or collapse of the protonic gradient across the inner mitochondrial membrane leading to uncoupling of oxidation (of NADH and FADH) from phosphorylation of ADP to form ATP. Tantalizing, but limited, data support the view that cytopathic hypoxia occurs in both animals and patients with sepsis or endotoxemia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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