3 years ago

The role of heparin in sepsis: much more than just an anticoagulant

Xiaochun Ma, Xu Li
Despite progress in antibiotic treatment, mechanical ventilation, fluid resuscitation and blood glucose maintenance, sepsis remains a cause of high mortality in the intensive care unit to date, there are no proven treatment strategies for the routine management of septic patients. The extensive interaction between inflammation and coagulation contributes to the basic pathophysiology of sepsis. Thus, the agents that attenuate the activation of both inflammation and coagulation may improve the outcome in sepsis. Apart from the well-known anticoagulant effects of heparin, it also possesses various immunomodulatory properties and protects glycocalyx from shedding. Hence, heparin seems to be such an agent. Immunothrombosis plays an important role in early host defence against bacterial dissemination, thus the proper timing for anticoagulant therapy should be determined. We review the available experimental and clinical data supporting the use of heparin in sepsis. At this time the use of heparin in the treatment of sepsis is conflicting. Future trials of heparin therapy for sepsis should concentrate on the very severely ill patients, in whom benefit is most likely to be demonstrated.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/bjh.14885

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