Research ArticleSepsis

Protective effect of the long pentraxin PTX3 against histone-mediated endothelial cell cytotoxicity in sepsis

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Science Signaling  16 Sep 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 343, pp. ra88
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005522

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Abstract

Pentraxin 3 (PTX3), a member of the long pentraxin subfamily within the family of pentraxins, is a soluble pattern recognition molecule that functions in the innate immune system. Innate immunity affords the infected host protection against sepsis, a potentially life-threatening inflammatory response to infection. Extracellular histones are considered to be the main cause of septic death because of their cytotoxic effect on endothelial cells, which makes them a potential therapeutic target. We found that PTX3 interacted with histones to form coaggregates, which depended on polyvalent interactions and disorder in the secondary structure of PTX3. PTX3 exerted a protective effect, both in vitro and in vivo, against histone-mediated cytotoxicity toward endothelial cells. Additionally, the intraperitoneal administration of PTX3 reduced mortality in mouse models of sepsis. The amino-terminal domain of PTX3, which was required for coaggregation with histones, was sufficient to protect against cytotoxicity. Our results suggest that the host-protective effects of PTX3 in sepsis are a result of its coaggregation with histones rather than its ability to mediate pattern recognition. This long pentraxin–specific effect provides a potential basis for the treatment of sepsis directed at protecting cells from the toxic effects of extracellular histones.

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