Imbalanced Subthreshold Currents Following Sepsis and Chemotherapy: A Shared Mechanism Offering a New Therapeutic Target?

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Publication Date



85598096 (Orcid)


Both sepsis and treatment of cancer with chemotherapy are known to cause neurologic dysfunction. The primary defects seen in both groups of patients are neuropathy and encephalopathy; the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Analysis of preclinical models of these disparate conditions reveal similar defects in ion channel function contributing to peripheral neuropathy. The defects in ion channel function extend to the central nervous system where lower motoneurons are affected. In motoneurons the defect involves ion channels responsible for subthreshold currents that convert steady depolarization into repetitive firing. The inability to correctly translate depolarization into steady, repetitive firing has profound effects on motor function, and could be an important contributor to weakness and fatigue experienced by both groups of patients. The possibility that disruption of function, either instead of, or in addition to neurodegeneration, may underlie weakness and fatigue leads to a novel approach to therapy. Activation of serotonin (5HT) receptors in a rat model of sepsis restores the normal balance of subthreshold currents and normal motoneuron firing. If an imbalance of subthreshold currents also occurs in other central nervous system neurons, it could contribute to encephalopathy. We hypothesize that pharmacologically restoring the proper balance of subthreshold currents might provide effective therapy for both neuropathy and encephalopathy in patients recovering from sepsis or treatment with chemotherapy. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)



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