Sepsis is a severe systemic response to infection; its ensuing organ failure commonly portends an unfavourable prognosis. Despite the fact that sepsis has been studied for decades, the molecular mechanisms underlying sepsis-induced organ dysfunction remain elusive and more complex than previously thought, and effective therapies are extremely limited. Calpain is a type of calcium-dependent cysteine protease that includes dozens of isoforms. Calpain, as well as its endogenous specific inhibitor calpastatin, have been implicated in the pathogenesis of sepsis-induced organ dysfunction. Further, there is an accumulating body of evidence supporting the beneficial effect of calpain inhibition or regulation on multiple organ failure in sepsis. Better understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms is helpful in the development of calpain/calpastatin-targeted therapeutic strategies to protect against sepsis-induced organ injury. The aim of this review is to summarize the recent literature and evidence surrounding the role of the calpain/calpastatin system in the process of organ dysfunction caused by sepsis-including regulation of cell death, modulation of inflammatory response, and disruption of critical proteins-to provide guidance for future research and therapy development.

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PubMed