Heparin-based blood purification attenuates organ injury in baboons with Streptococcus pneumoniae pneumonia

Lingye Chen, Bryan D. Kraft, Victor L. Roggli, Zachary R. Healy, Christopher W. Woods, Ephraim L. Tsalik, Geoffrey S. Ginsburg, David M. Murdoch, Hagir B. Suliman, Claude A. Piantadosi, Karen E. Welty-Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Bacterial pneumonia is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide despite the use of antibiotics, and novel therapies are urgently needed. Building on previous work, we aimed to 1) develop a baboon model of severe pneumococcal pneumonia and sepsis with organ dysfunction and 2) test the safety and efficacy of a novel extracorporeal blood filter to remove proinflammatory molecules and improve organ function. After a dose-finding pilot study, 12 animals were inoculated with Streptococcus pneumoniae [5 109 colony-forming units (CFU)], given ceftriaxone at 24 h after inoculation, and randomized to extracorporeal blood purification using a filter coated with surface-immobilized heparin sulfate (n = 6) or sham treatment (n = 6) for 4 h at 30 h after inoculation. For safety analysis, four uninfected animals also underwent purification. At 48 h, necropsy was performed. Inoculated animals developed severe pneumonia and septic shock. Compared with sham-treated animals, septic animals treated with purification displayed significantly less kidney injury, metabolic acidosis, hypoglycemia, and shock (P < 0.05). Purification blocked the rise in peripheral blood S. pneumoniae DNA, attenuated bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) CCL4, CCL2, and IL-18 levels, and reduced renal oxidative injury and classical NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Purification was safe in both uninfected and infected animals and produced no adverse effects. We demonstrate that heparin-based blood purification significantly attenuates levels of circulating S. pneumoniae DNA and BAL cytokines and is renal protective in baboons with severe pneumococcal pneumonia and septic shock. Purification was associated with less severe acute kidney injury, metabolic derangements, and shock. These results support future clinical studies in critically ill septic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L321-L335
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Animal disease models
  • Extracorporeal circulation
  • Inflammasomes
  • Pathogen-associated molecular pattern molecules
  • Sepsis


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