Inflammation-blocking cells might fight often-fatal sepsis

Mouse experiments show treatment dampens overactive response to infection

10:22am, August 14, 2014

Injections of an obscure cell best known for making collagen might quell the runaway inflammation that underlies lethal sepsis, a study in mice shows. Animals getting fibroblastic reticular cells were much more likely than others to survive sepsis, an immune overreaction typically triggered by bacterial infections reaching the blood.

Although the research is still at an early stage, the findings brighten prospects for finding an effective treatment for the condition. Sepsis is a medical emergency. Even with antibiotic treatment, a bacterial blood infection can flip the immune system into overdrive and flood the body with inflammatory cells and proteins, damaging organs. That makes sepsis fatal roughly 25 to 40 percent of the time, killing an estimated 7.3 million people worldwide every year. Options for treating sepsis are limited because suppressing immunity amid an infection is ill-advised.

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