Repositioning of the antipsychotic drug TFP for sepsis treatment

J Mol Med (Berl). 2019 May;97(5):647-658. doi: 10.1007/s00109-019-01762-4. Epub 2019 Mar 8.


Sepsis is a disease responsible for the death of almost all critical patients. Once infected by virus or bacteria, patients can die due to systemic inflammation within a short period of time. Cytokine storm plays an essential role in causing organ dysfunction and septic shock. Thus, inhibition of cytokine secretion is considered very important in sepsis therapy. In this study, we found that TFP, an antipsychotic drug mainly used to treat schizophrenia by suppressing dopamine secretion, inhibited cytokine release from activated immune cells both in vitro and in vivo. Trifluoperazine (TFP) decreased the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines without altering their transcription level. In LPS-induced endotoxemia and cecal content injection (CCI) models, TFP intraperitoneal administration improved survival rate. Thus, TFP was considered to inhibit the secretion of proteins through a mechanism similar to that of W7, a calmodulin inhibitor. Finally, we confirmed that TFP treatment relieved organ damage by estimating the concentrations of aspartate transaminase (AST), alanine transaminase (ALT), and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) in the serum. Our findings were regarded as a new discovery of the function of TFP in treating sepsis patients. KEY MESSAGES: • TFP inhibits LPS-induced activation of DCs by suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokine. • Treatment of TFP increases survival of LPS-induced endotoxemia and CCI sepsis models. • TFP exerted a protective effect against tissue or organ damage in animal models.

Keywords: Calmodulin (CaM); Cytokine; Inflammation; Sepsis; TFP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Drug Repositioning*
  • Female
  • Lipopolysaccharides / immunology
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Sepsis / drug therapy*
  • Sepsis / immunology
  • Sepsis / pathology
  • Trifluoperazine / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Trifluoperazine