Heat shock treatment decreases the mortality of sepsis in rats

Kaohsiung J Med Sci. 1998 Nov;14(11):664-72.


Sepsis is an increasingly common and lethal diagnosis in hospitalized patients. In spite of the advances in antibiotics and medical equipment, the mortality rate has not been improved in the last decade. Recently, heat shock proteins (Hsps) have been well documented to play a self-protective role in almost all living cells under various pathological and physiological stresses through a mechanism known as thermotolerance or cross tolerance. The present study was designed to investigate the expression of Hsp72 and the protective role of pre-induction of Hsps in the mortality during different phases of sepsis. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were employed in the study. Sepsis was induced by cecal ligation and puncture (CLP). Heat shock treatment was performed 16 hrs before sepsis induction by heating the rats whole-bodily with an electric heating pad under general anesthesia. The mortality rates with time in both control and preheated groups were monitored. Hsp72 was detected by SDS-PAGE, Western blotting and immunostaining in the brain, heart, liver, kidney, lung, adrenal gland, muscle and lymphocytes. The results show that both early (9 hrs post-CLP) and late (18 hrs post-CLP) sepsis failed to increase the synthesis of Hsp72. Previous induction of Hsps by heat shock treatment significantly decreased the mortality rate of late sepsis. Applying a sufficient inducer to lymphocytes of late sepsis reversed the synthesis of Hsp72 from inactive state into an over-expressive situation in vitro. These results suggest that Hsps are involved in the pathogenesis of sepsis and the involvement of Hsps during the progression of sepsis could add to a first line of host defense against invasive pathogens. Searching for an acceptable agent or less invasive method that leads to increased Hsps expression may provide a means for better treatment of severe infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • HSP72 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sepsis / mortality*


  • HSP72 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Nitric Oxide