Roles of Coagulation Abnormalities and Microthrombosis in Sepsis: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Arch Med Res. 2021 Nov;52(8):788-797. doi: 10.1016/j.arcmed.2021.07.003. Epub 2021 Jul 31.


The diagnostic criteria of overt disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) were established by the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) in 2001. Since then, DIC has long been associated with adverse outcomes. However, recent advances in sepsis shed light on the role of coagulation disorders in the progression of sepsis. Currently, inflammation and coagulation are recognized as the two drivers that promote organ dysfunction in sepsis and septic shock. The ISTH has published new diagnostic criteria for improved management, namely sepsis-induced coagulopathy (SIC), in 2017. SIC is a pragmatic scoring system composed of platelet count, prothrombin time, and organ dysfunction score to detect the early-stage of sepsis-associated DIC. Since overt DIC represents an uncompensated coagulation disorder, a two-step approach using SIC and overt DIC criteria is a novel strategy to evaluate the severity and manage this challenging complication. Although there is no globally agreed on anticoagulant therapy for DIC, the Japanese Surviving Sepsis Campaign Guidelines 2020 recommend using antithrombin and recombinant thrombomodulin for sepsis associated DIC. Since research in this area has been previously reported, an international collaborative study is necessary to develop future diagnostic tools and treatment strategies.

Keywords: Antithrombin; Disseminated intravascular coagulation; Fibrinolysis; Recombinant thrombomodulin; Sepsis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Coagulation Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders* / etiology
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders* / therapy
  • Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation* / diagnosis
  • Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation* / etiology
  • Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Sepsis* / complications
  • Sepsis* / diagnosis
  • Shock, Septic*
  • Thrombosis*