Introduction: Endothelial activation leading to vascular barrier breakdown plays an essential role in the pathophysiology of multiple-organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) in sepsis. Increasing evidence suggests that the function of the vessel-protective factor Angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1), a ligand of the endothelial-specific Tie2 receptor, is inhibited by its antagonist Angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) during sepsis. In order to reverse the effects of the sepsis-induced suppression of Ang-1 and elevation of Ang-2 we aimed to investigate whether an intravenous injection of recombinant human (rh) Ang-1 protects against MODS in murine sepsis.
Methods: Polymicrobiological abdominal sepsis was induced by cecal ligation and puncture (CLP). Mice were treated with either 1 μg of intravenous rhAng-1 or control buffer immediately after CLP induction and every 8h thereafter. Sham-operated animals served as time-matched controls.
Results: Compared to buffer-treated controls, rhAng-1 treated septic mice showed significant improvements in several hematologic and biochemical indicators of MODS. Moreover, rhAng-1 stabilized endothelial barrier function, as evidenced by inhibition of protein leakage from lung capillaries into the alveolar compartment. Histological analysis revealed that rhAng-1 treatment attenuated leukocyte infiltration in lungs and kidneys of septic mice, probably due to reduced endothelial adhesion molecule expression in rhAng-1 treated mice. Finally, the protective effects of rhAng-1 treatment were reflected by an improved survival time in a lethal CLP model.
Conclusions: In a clinically relevant murine sepsis model, intravenous rhAng-1 treatment alone is sufficient to significantly improve a variety of sepsis-associated organ dysfunctions and survival time, most likely by preserving endothelial barrier function. Further studies are needed to pave the road for clinical application of this therapy concept.
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