Disordered coagulation contributes to death in sepsis and lacks effective treatments. Existing markers of disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) reflect its sequelae rather than its causes, delaying diagnosis and treatment. Here we show that disruption of the endothelial Tie2 axis is a sentinel event in septic DIC. Proteomics in septic DIC patients revealed a network involving inflammation and coagulation with the Tie2 antagonist, Angiopoietin-2 (Angpt-2), occupying a central node. Angpt-2 was strongly associated with traditional DIC markers including platelet counts, yet more accurately predicted mortality in two large independent cohorts (combined N = 1077). In endotoxemic mice, reduced Tie2 signaling preceded signs of overt DIC. During this early phase, intravital imaging of microvascular injury revealed excessive fibrin accumulation, a pattern remarkably mimicked by Tie2 deficiency even without inflammation. Conversely, Tie2 activation normalized pro-thrombotic responses by inhibiting endothelial tissue factor and phosphatidylserine exposure. Critically, Tie2 activation had no adverse effects on bleeding. These results mechanistically implicate Tie2 signaling as a central regulator of microvascular thrombus formation in septic DIC and indicate that circulating markers of the Tie2 axis could facilitate earlier diagnosis. Finally, interventions targeting Tie2 may normalize coagulation in inflammatory states while averting the bleeding risks of current DIC therapies.
Sarah J. Higgins, Karen De Ceunynck, John Kellum, Xiuying Chen, Xuesong Gu, Sharjeel A. Chaudhry, Sol Schulman, Towia A. Libermann, Shulin Lu, Nathan I. Shapiro, David C. Christiani, Robert Flaumenhaft, Samir M. Parikh