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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2013, Article ID 165974, 16 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/165974
Review Article

Cytokines in Sepsis: Potent Immunoregulators and Potential Therapeutic Targets—An Updated View

1Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, The Anlyan Center, S525, P.O. Box 208031, 300 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06520-8031, USA
2Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology, University Hospital of RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstraße 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany

Received 5 October 2012; Accepted 22 May 2013

Academic Editor: Celeste C. Finnerty

Copyright © 2013 Wibke Schulte et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Sepsis and septic shock are among the leading causes of death in intensive care units worldwide. Numerous studies on their pathophysiology have revealed an imbalance in the inflammatory network leading to tissue damage, organ failure, and ultimately, death. Cytokines are important pleiotropic regulators of the immune response, which have a crucial role in the complex pathophysiology underlying sepsis. They have both pro- and anti-inflammatory functions and are capable of coordinating effective defense mechanisms against invading pathogens. On the other hand, cytokines may dysregulate the immune response and promote tissue-damaging inflammation. In this review, we address the current knowledge of the actions of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in sepsis pathophysiology as well as how these cytokines and other important immunomodulating agents may be therapeutically targeted to improve the clinical outcome of sepsis.