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Center of Excellence for Inflammation, Infectious Disease & Immunity

Quillen College of Medicine

Center of Excellence for Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Immunity



PhD. Student Wins Travel Award to Annual Conference for a Second Year in a Row

Last year, Xiaohui Wang, a PhD student in the Department of Surgery, and Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Immunity student member, won a Shock Society Travel award to attend the annual Shock Conference and to present his paper on a Toll-Like Receptor that plays a role in repairing heart tissue after a heart attack. This year, Mr. Wang has repeated his success with another Shock Society Travel award to present a different paper, MicroRNA-125b preserves cardiac function in polymicrobial sepsis by targeting TRAF6 and p53 mediated apoptotic signaling. The Shock Society is an international scientific organization dedicated to facilitating integration of new techniques and research into the study of pathophysiology and the treatment of trauma, shock, and sepsis.

Wang in his lab


This year, Mr. Wang has built upon his previous research and focused on a specific MicroRNA (miR-125b) that is protective against heart dysfunction caused by polymicrobial sepsis. Through his research, Wang worked to better understand the mechanisms of sepsis-induced heart dysfunction. He discovered that sepsis decreased the levels of microRNA-125b in the heart tissue and circulation. More importantly, increased levels of microRNA-125b in the heart tissue significantly improved heart function and survival outcome. The enhanced microRNA-125b limited damage to heart cells during the septic challenge. This demonstrated that MiR-125b serves as a protective role in sepsis because it suppresses the body's over inflammatory response to sepsis.

Severe sepsis and septic shock are major healthcare problems throughout the world. The CDCs National Center for Health Statistics states that over one million patients are diagnosed with sepsis annually. It is estimated that as many as half of all hospital deaths are also related to sepsis. Cardiovascular dysfunction or septic cardiomyopathy is a major complication association with sepsis induced morbidity and mortality.

Currently, there is no specific approach for the treatment of sepsis/septic shock patients. The best option for patients diagnosed with sepsis is to clear the microbial infection with powerful antibiotics or to physically remove the infected area with surgery, all while working to lessen the bodys septic response. This is often done in prolonged stays in intensive care units at great expense to patients and health care systems. In 2011, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) listed sepsis as the most expensive condition treated in U.S. hospitals with an annual cost around 20 billion dollars.

Wang states, We have discovered that a specific microRNA can significantly attenuate sepsis-induced cardiac dysfunction and improve survival outcome. Our study indicates that modulation of this specific microRNA may be a useful approach to treat septic cardiomyopathy. Wangs work to better understand and treat the inflammatory septic response is valuable to the medical system and represents potential future therapies that can directly target sepsis.

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