Sepsis progression and outcome: a dynamical model

Theor Biol Med Model. 2006 Feb 15;3:8. doi: 10.1186/1742-4682-3-8.


Background: Sepsis (bloodstream infection) is the leading cause of death in non-surgical intensive care units. It is diagnosed in 750,000 US patients per annum, and has high mortality. Current understanding of sepsis is predominately observational and correlational, with only a partial and incomplete understanding of the physiological dynamics underlying the syndrome. There exists a need for dynamical models of sepsis progression, based upon basic physiologic principles, which could eventually guide hourly treatment decisions.

Results: We present an initial mathematical model of sepsis, based on metabolic rate theory that links basic vascular and immunological dynamics. The model includes the rate of vascular circulation, a surrogate for the metabolic rate that is mechanistically associated with disease progression. We use the mass-specific rate of blood circulation (SRBC), a correlate of the body mass index, to build a differential equation model of circulation, infection, organ damage, and recovery. This introduces a vascular component into an infectious disease model that describes the interaction between a pathogen and the adaptive immune system.

Conclusion: The model predicts that deviations from normal SRBC correlate with disease progression and adverse outcome. We compare the predictions with population mortality data from cardiovascular disease and cancer and show that deviations from normal SRBC correlate with higher mortality rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Critical Care
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Sepsis / diagnosis*
  • Sepsis / mortality
  • Sepsis / physiopathology*
  • Sepsis / therapy
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome