The renal microcirculation in sepsis

Bulent Ergin, Aysegul Kapucu, Cihan Demirci-Tansel, Can Ince

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Despite identification of several cellular mechanisms being thought to underlie the development of septic acute kidney injury (AKI), the pathophysiology of the occurrence of AKI is still poorly understood. It is clear, however, that instead of a single mechanism being responsible for its aetiology, an orchestra of cellular mechanisms failing is associated with AKI. The integrative physiological compartment where these mechanisms come together and exert their integrative deleterious action is the renal microcirculation (MC). This is why it is opportune to review the response of the renal MC to sepsis and discuss the determinants of its (dys)function and how it contributes to the pathogenesis of renal failure. A main determinant of adequate organ function is the adequate supply and utilization of oxygen at the microcirculatory and cellular level to perform organ function. The highly complex architecture of the renal microvasculature, the need to meet a high energy demand and the fact that the kidney is borderline ischaemic makes the kidney a highly vulnerable organ to hypoxaemic injury. Under normal, steady-state conditions, oxygen (O2) supply to the renal tissues is well regulated; however, under septic conditions the delicate balance of oxygen supply versus demand is disturbed due to renal microvasculature dysfunction. This dysfunction is largely due to the interaction of renal oxygen handling, nitric oxide metabolism and radical formation. Renal tissue oxygenation is highly heterogeneous not only between the cortex and medulla but also within these renal compartments. Integrative evaluation of the different determinants of tissue oxygen in sepsis models has identified the deterioration of microcirculatory oxygenation as a key component in the development AKI. It is becoming clear that resuscitation of the failing kidney needs to integratively correct the homeostasis between oxygen, and reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. Several experimental therapeutic modalities have been found to be effective in restoring microcirculatory oxygenation in parallel to improving renal function following septic AKI. However, these have to be verified in clinical studies. The development of clinical physiological biomarkers of AKI specifically aimed at the MC should form a valuable contribution to monitoring such new therapeutic modalities
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-177
JournalNephrology, dialysis, transplantation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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