Background: Neonatal sepsis represents a unique therapeutic challenge owing to an immature immune system. Necroptosis is a form of programmed cell death that has been identified as an important mechanism of inflammation-induced cell death. Receptor-interacting protein kinase 1 plays a key role in mediating this process. We hypothesized that pharmacologic blockade of receptor-interacting protein kinase 1 activity would be protective in neonatal sepsis. Methods: Sepsis was induced in C57BL/6 mouse pups (5-7 days old) by intraperitoneal injection of adult cecal slurry. At 1 hour after cecal slurry injection, the receptor-interacting protein kinase 1 inhibitor necrostatin-1 (10 µg/g body weight) or vehicle (5% dimethyl sulfoxide in phosphate buffered saline) was administered via retro-orbital injection. At 20 hours after cecal slurry injection, blood and lung tissues were collected for various analyses. Results: At 20 hours after sepsis induction, vehicle-treated pups showed a marked increase in serum levels of interleukin 6, interleukin 1-beta, and interleukin 18 compared to sham. With necrostatin-1 treatment, serum levels of interleukin 6, interleukin 1-beta, and interleukin 18 were decreased by 77%, 81%, and 63%, respectively, compared to vehicle. In the lungs, sepsis induction resulted in a 232-, 10-, and 2.8-fold increase in interleukin 6, interleukin 1-beta, and interleukin 18 mRNA levels compared to sham, while necrostatin-1 treatment decreased these levels to 40-, 4-, and 0.8-fold, respectively. Expressions of the neutrophil chemokines keratinocyte chemoattractant and macrophage-inflammatory-protein-2 were also increased in the lungs in sepsis, while necrostatin-1 treatment decreased these levels by 81% and 61%, respectively, compared to vehicle. In addition, necrostatin-1 treatment significantly improved the lung histologic injury score and decreased lung apoptosis in septic pups. Finally, treatment with necrostatin-1 increased the 7-day survival rate from 0% in the vehicle-treated septic pups to 29% (P =.11). Conclusion: Inhibition of receptor-interacting protein kinase 1 by necrostatin-1 decreases systemic and pulmonary inflammation, decreases lung injury, and increases survival in neonatal mice with sepsis. Targeting the necroptosis pathway might represent a new therapeutic strategy for neonatal sepsis.
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