Background: High-mobility group box chromosomal protein 1 (HMGB1) has recently been shown to be an important late mediator of endotoxin shock, intraabdominal sepsis, and acute lung injury, and a promising therapeutic target of severe sepsis. We sought to investigate the effect of antibodies to HMGB1 on severe sepsis in a rat cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) model. Methods: Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats underwent CLP and then were randomly divided into two groups: treatment with anti-HMGB1 polyclonal antibodies, and non-immune IgG-treated controls. The serum HMGB1 concentrations were measured at ten time points (preoperatively, and postoperatively at 4, 8, 20, 32, and 48 h and at 3, 4, 5, and 6 days). Hematoxylin-eosin staining, elastica-Masson staining, and immunohistochemical staining for HMGB1 were performed on the cecum and the lung to assess pathological changes 24 h after the CLP procedure. Results: Treatment with anti-HMGB1 antibodies significantly increased survival [55% (anti-HMGB1) vs. 9% (controls); P< 0.01]. The serum HMGB1 concentrations at postoperative hours 20 and 32 of the anti-HMGB1 antibody-treated animals were significantly lower than those of the controls (P < 0.05). Treatment with anti-HMGB1 antibodies markedly diminished the pathological changes and the number of HMGB1-positive cells in the cecum and the lung. Conclusions: The present study demonstrates that anti-HMGB1 antibodies are effective in the treatment of severe sepsis in a rat model, thereby supporting the relevance of HMGB1 eradication therapy for severe sepsis.
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