Sepsis and sepsis syndrome are leading causes of mortality throughout the world. It is widely held that sepsis represents a dysregulated innate immune response to an offending pathogen. This immune response is often initiated via microbial products signaling through TLRs expressed on host immune cells. There is increasing evidence that this innate response can be dramatically influenced by the cellular redox state, and thus a better understanding of oxidative regulation of innate immunity could lead to new treatments for sepsis. In this issue of the JCI, Thimmulappa et al. show that nuclear factor-erythroid 2–related factor 2 (Nrf2), a member of the “cap’n’collar” family of basic region–leucine zipper transcription factors, which has previously been shown to be involved in the transcription of antioxidant gene expression in response to xenobiotic stress, is also a critical regulator of cellular oxidative stress in sepsis (see the related article beginning on page 984).
Jay K. Kolls