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Septic shock occurs when acute inflammation, low blood pressure and blood clotting cause blood delivery to the organs to slow dangerously, resulting in lack of oxygen followed by progressive organ failure. Septic shock is the leading cause of death in intensive care units; mortality rates may exceed 70%. The mechanisms underlying development of septic shock are not completely understood. Nitric oxide (NO) is thought to contribute to the hypotension component, but past attempts to inhibit NO production in animal models and human patients with septic shock resulted in more organ damage and higher mortality rates. New research from Anje Cauwels, Peter Brouckaert (Ghent University, Belgium) and colleagues now suggests that NO may protect against organ damage and mortality from septic shock.
Lab Anim. (NY) 39, 29 (2010).
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