February 16, 1990

Inflammation-Mediator Blockers May Be Weapons Against Sepsis Syndrome

JAMA. 1990;263(7):930-931. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440070012004

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SEPSIS SYNDROME or septic shock, a frequently fatal inflammatory response to infections involving endotoxin-producing gram-negative bacteria and sometimes other organisms, affects many thousands of people in the United States each year. In more than 50% of cases, sepsis syndrome leads to major organ damage, and, depending on the patient population studied, from 20% to 90% die, despite all medical efforts.

Any major organ may be affected, although the lungs often take the brunt of the damage. According to a 1972 estimate by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Lung Program, approximately 150 000 patients each year develop adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). While the number of cases occurring today is unknown, the fatality rate, which is 50% to 70%, has remained about the same, as best can be determined.

Sepsis Symptoms  The symptoms of sepsis syndrome usually include fever, chills, lethargy, hypotension, tachycardia, hyperventilation, thrombosis, and leukocytosis. Sepsis-induced lung