By Maiara Marx Luz Fiusa, Marco Antonio Carvalho-Filho1, Joyce M Annichino-Bizzacchi and Erich V De Paula
Published in BMC Med. 2015 May 6;13(1):105. doi: 10.1186/s12916-015-0327-2. (open access)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Coagulation and innate immunity have been linked together for at least 450 million years of evolution. Sepsis, one of the world’s leading causes of death, is probably the condition in which this evolutionary link is more evident. However, the biological and the clinical relevance of this association have only recently gained the attention of the scientific community.

DISCUSSION: During sepsis, the host response to a pathogen is invariably associated with coagulation activation. For several years, coagulation activation has been solely regarded as a mechanism of tissue damage, a concept that led to several clinical trials of anticoagulant agents for sepsis. More recently, this paradigm has been challenged by the failure of these clinical trials, and by a growing bulk of evidence supporting the concept that coagulation activation is beneficial for pathogen clearance. In this article we discuss recent basic and clinical data that point to a more balanced view of the detrimental and beneficial consequences of coagulation activation in sepsis. Reappraisal of the association between coagulation and immune activation from an evolutionary medicine perspective offers a unique opportunity to gain new insights about the pathogenesis of sepsis, paving the way to more successful approaches in both basic and clinical research in this field.