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The 'death switch' in sepsis also promotes survival
Date:2/2/2011

  • The adaptor protein thought to be active in killing cells also promotes cellular survival through a dual function
  • Findings indicate that the presence of RIP1 is actually necessary for survival of septic injury
  • Future research will focus on identifying survival trigger, and the potential for developing new treatments for sepsis

PROVIDENCE, R.I. Researchers from Rhode Island Hospital have identified a protein that plays a dual role in the liver during sepsis. The protein, known as RIP1, acts both as a "death switch" and as a pro-survival mechanism. The ability to identify the triggers for these functions may play a key role in treating sepsis in the future. The study is published online in advance of print in the journal Shock.

Sepsis is a serious condition in which the body is fighting a severe infection that has traveled through the bloodstream and is associated with a high mortality rate. Very few advances have been made to date on the biological mechanisms that cause septic morbidity and mortality. One focus, however, is Receptor Interacting Protein 1 (RIP1). This adaptor protein has been shown to have a signaling function for cells when it reacts with other receptors, and serves to switch an apoptotic cell death (a highly regulated form of death/cell suicide) to a necrotic death (a more disorderly death).

Alfred Ayala, Ph.D., a senior researcher in the division of surgical research within the department of surgery at Rhode Island Hospital and a professor at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, is the senior author of the study. Ayala says, "We initially hypothesized that RIP1 was involved in the alteration of the apoptotic death pathway to result in a kind of 'programmed necrosis' in the liver. What we actually found was an alternative role for RIP1 in the pathobiology of sepsis in the liver one that also promotes cellular survival."

Sam McNeal, the lead author on the study
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Contact: Nancy Cawley Jean
njean@lifespan.org
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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