Carbon monoxide in the treatment of sepsis Review uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Sepsis


  • Carbon monoxide (CO), a low-molecular-weight gas, is endogenously produced in the body as a product of heme degradation catalyzed by heme oxygenase (HO) enzymes. As the beneficial roles of HO system have been elucidated in vitro and in vivo, CO itself has also been reported as a potent cytoprotective molecule. Whereas CO represents a toxic inhalation hazard at high concentration, low-dose exogenous CO treatment (∼250-500 parts per million) demonstrates protective functions including but not limited to the anti-inflammatory and antiapoptotic effects in preclinical models of human diseases. Of note, CO exposure confers protection in animal models of sepsis by inhibiting inflammatory responses and also enhancing bacterial phagocytosis in leukocytes. These unique functions of CO including both dampening inflammation and promoting host defense mechanism are mediated by multiple pathways such as autophagy induction or biosynthesis of specialized proresolving lipid mediators. We suggest that CO gas may represent a novel therapy for patients with sepsis.

publication date

  • January 2015



  • Review



  • eng

PubMed Central ID

  • PMC4683310

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1152/ajplung.00311.2015

PubMed ID

  • 26498251

Additional Document Info

start page

  • L1387

end page

  • 93


  • 309


  • 12