Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery

, Volume 395, Issue 6, pp 597–605

Endotoxin elimination in sepsis: physiology and therapeutic application

  • Klaus Buttenschoen
  • Peter Radermacher
  • Hendrik Bracht

DOI: 10.1007/s00423-010-0658-6

Cite this article as:
Buttenschoen, K., Radermacher, P. & Bracht, H. Langenbecks Arch Surg (2010) 395: 597. doi:10.1007/s00423-010-0658-6



The present review summarizes key papers on the elimination of endotoxin in human.


Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) are extremely strong stimulators of inflammatory reactions, act at very low concentrations, and are involved in the pathogenesis of sepsis and septic shock. Elimination of LPS is vital; therefore, therapeutic detoxification of LPS may offer new perspectives. Multiple mechanisms eliminate LPS in human comprising molecules that bind LPS and prevent it from signaling, enzymes that degrade and detoxify LPS, processes that inactivate LPS following uptake into the reticulo-endothelial system, and mechanisms of adaptation that modify target cells responding to LPS. These mechanisms are powerful and detoxification capacity adapts as required. Results of therapeutic interventions aiming at the removal of LPS by medication (immunoglobulins) or extracorporeal means are controversial. At least in part, animal experiments revealed increased survival. Human trials confirmed the positive effects on parameters of secondary importance, but not on morbidity or survival which was attributed to the heterogeneity of patients suffering from consequences of severe infectious diseases and sepsis.


The hypothesis of LPS-driven inflammatory processes remains very attractive. However, few therapeutic yet immature options have been developed to date.



Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Klaus Buttenschoen
    • 1
  • Peter Radermacher
    • 2
  • Hendrik Bracht
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Surgery, Division of General SurgeryUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Sektion Anästhesiologische Pathophysiologie und VerfahrensentwicklungUniversitätsklinik für AnästhesiologieUniversitätsklinikumGermany