Danger signals from mitochondrial DAMPS in trauma and post-injury sepsis

  • C. J. HauserEmail author
  • L. E. Otterbein
Original Article


In all multicellular organisms, immediate host responses to both sterile and infective threat are initiated by very primitive systems now grouped together under the general term ‘danger responses’. Danger signals are generated when primitive ‘pattern recognition receptors’ (PRR) encounter activating ‘alarmins’. These molecular species may be of pathogenic infective origin (pathogen-associated molecular patterns) or of sterile endogenous origin (danger-associated molecular patterns). There are many sterile and infective alarmins and there is considerable overlap in their ability to activate PRR, but in all cases the end result is inflammation. It is the overlap between sterile and infective signals acting via a relatively limited number of PRR that generally underlies the great clinical similarity we see between sterile and infective systemic inflammatory responses. Mitochondria (MT) are evolutionarily derived from bacteria, and thus they sit at the crossroads between sterile and infective danger signal pathways. Many of the molecular species in mitochondria are alarmins, and so the release of MT from injured cells results in a wide variety of inflammatory events. This paper discusses the known participation of MT in inflammation and reviews what is known about how the major.



Funded by the United States Department of Defense focused program award W81XWH-16-1-0464.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no relevant conflicts of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SurgeryBeth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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