The pathophysiology of sepsis and its accompanying systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and the events that lead to multiorgan failure and death are poorly understood. It is known that, in septic humans and rodents, the development of SIRS is associated with a loss of the redox balance, but SIRS can also develop in noninfectious states. In addition, a hyperinflammatory state develops, together with impaired innate immune functions of phagocytes, immunosuppression, and complement activation, collectively leading to septic shock and lethality. Here, we discuss recent insights into the signaling pathways in immune and phagocytic cells that underlie sepsis and SIRS and consider how these might be targeted for therapeutic interventions to reverse or attenuate pathways that lead to lethality during sepsis.
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