Overexpression of Bcl-2 in the intestinal epithelium improves survival in septic mice

Craig M. Coopersmith*, Katherine C. Chang, Paul E. Swanson, Kevin W. Tinsley, Paul E. Stromberg, Timothy G. Buchman, Irene E. Karl, Richard S. Hotchkiss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine whether decreasing intestinal epithelial apoptosis in sepsis would alter mortality rates. The roles of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-2 and the "executioner" protease caspase-3 in sepsis-induced gut cell death also were evaluated. Design: Prospective, randomized, controlled trial. Setting: Animal laboratory in an academic medical center. Interventions: Transgenic mice that overexpress Bcl-2 throughout the small intestinal epithelium (n = 23) and littermate controls (n = 27) were subjected to cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) and followed for 8 days to assess survival. A second group of transgenic (n = 15) and littermate animals (n = 15) were subjected to CLP and were killed between 16 and 48 hrs postoperatively to assess for intestinal apoptosis and active caspase-3 staining. Measurements and Main Results: Survival of transgenic animals was 83% 8 days after CLP compared with 44% for littermate controls (p < .005). Survival curves between the two groups of animals began diverging within 24 hrs. Overexpression of Bcl-2 was associated with a significant decrease in apoptosis between 16 and 24 hrs post-CLP (p < .05) as well as decreased staining for active caspase-3. Conclusions: Decreasing intestinal epithelial cell death via overexpression of Bcl-2 improves survival in septic mice. The gut may play a central role in the pathophysiology of sepsis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-201
Number of pages7
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Bcl-2
  • Caspase
  • Intestine
  • Lymphocyte
  • Mortality
  • Multiple organ failure
  • Necrosis
  • Programmed cell death
  • Septic shock


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