Strategies for blocking the systemic effects of cytokines in the sepsis syndrome

Crit Care Med. 1995 May;23(5):955-63. doi: 10.1097/00003246-199505000-00027.


Objectives: To review and evaluate animal and human data regarding strategies to intervene in the pathogenesis of the sepsis syndrome by specifically blocking the action of single cytokines.

Data sources: The English language medical literature was reviewed, including reports of human clinical trials, animal experiments, and in vitro studies elucidating cellular and molecular interactions.

Study selection: Emphasis was placed on controlled experimental studies that elucidated the effectiveness of antibodies, soluble receptors, and receptor antagonists in intervening in the pathogenesis of the sepsis reaction.

Data extraction: This review focuses on data that directly involve the induction and regulation of protein mediators of sepsis, especially tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-1 beta, interleukin-6, and interleukin-8.

Data synthesis: Information concerning the potential of cytokine blockers in modulating the sepsis reaction is presented in a logical, clinically oriented fashion. The purpose is to emphasize the potential role of these agents by focusing on the actual existing data.

Conclusions: The pathophysiology of the sepsis reaction appears to involve the sequential release of cytokines. Interventions designed to specifically block the biological effects of single cytokines appear to have a role in the management of sepsis syndrome, but well-designed, prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials in well-defined clinical populations are necessary to define this role. These trials require the cooperation of clinical and basic scientists.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cytokines / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Cytokine / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Cytokine / drug effects
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / etiology
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / therapy*
  • Time Factors


  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Cytokine