EBioMedicine (Apr 2022)

Coagulation factor protein abundance in the pre-septic state predicts coagulopathic activities that arise during late-stage murine sepsis

  • Douglas M. Heithoff,
  • Genaro Pimienta,
  • Scott P. Mahan,
  • Won Ho Yang,
  • Dzung T. Le,
  • John K. House,
  • Jamey D. Marth,
  • Jeffrey W. Smith,
  • Michael J. Mahan

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 78
p. 103965


Read online

Summary: Background: Although sepsis accounts for 1 in 5 deaths globally, few molecular therapies exist for this condition. The development of effective biomarkers and treatments for sepsis requires a more complete understanding of host responses and pathogenic mechanisms at early stages of disease to minimize host-driven pathology. Methods: An alternative to the current symptom-based approach used to diagnose sepsis is a precise assessment of blood proteomic changes during the onset and progression of Salmonella Typhimurium (ST) murine sepsis. Findings: A distinct pattern of coagulation factor protein abundance was identified in the pre-septic state– prior to overt disease symptoms or bacteremia– that was predictive of the dysregulation of fibrinolytic and anti-coagulant activities and resultant consumptive coagulopathy during ST murine sepsis. Moreover, the changes in protein abundance observed generally have the same directionality (increased or decreased abundance) reported for human sepsis. Significant overlap of ST coagulopathic activities was observed in Gram-negative Escherichia coli– but not in Gram-positive staphylococcal or pneumococcal murine sepsis models. Treatment with matrix metalloprotease inhibitors prevented aberrant inflammatory and coagulopathic activities post-ST infection and increased survival. Antibiotic treatment regimens initiated after specific changes arise in the plasma proteome post-ST infection were predictive of an increase in disease relapse and death after cessation of antibiotic treatment. Interpretation: Altered blood proteomics provides a platform to develop rapid and easy-to-perform tests to predict sepsis for early intervention via biomarker incorporation into existing blood tests prompted by patient presentation with general malaise, and to stratify Gram-negative and Gram-positive infections for appropriate treatment. Antibiotics are less effective in microbial clearance when initiated after the onset of altered blood proteomics as evidenced by increased disease relapse and death after termination of antibiotic therapy. Treatment failure is potentially due to altered bacterial / host-responses and associated increased host-driven pathology, providing insight into why delays in antibiotic administration in human sepsis are associated with increased risk for death. Delayed treatment may thus require prolonged therapy for microbial clearance despite the prevailing notion of antibiotic de-escalation and shortened courses of antibiotics to improve drug stewardship. Funding: National Institutes of Health, U.S. Army.