Coagulation Factor XI (FXI) contributes to the pathobiology of sepsis-associated thrombosis and is a target for new therapeutics. Through cleavage of disulfide bonds, FXI becomes reduced (rFXI), accelerating intrinsic coagulation cascade activation. The role of rFXI in human sepsis has never been studied. We determined levels of total FXI and rFXI in critically-ill septic patients with and without overt disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC, a dysregulated pro-thrombotic condition). Total FXI and rFXI plasma levels were measured on ICU admission in prospectively enrolled septic patients (n = 32) from three academic medical centers and matched, healthy controls (n = 15). In septic patients, hematologic and physiologic parameters and pathological thrombosis (presence or absence of overt DIC) were determined. rFXI was higher in septic patients than controls (p < 0.05). In septic patients, rFXI was significantly associated with platelet count (r = 0.3511, p < 0.05) and APACHE II score (r = − 0.359, p < 0.05), indices of illness severity. rFXI was lower in patients with overt DIC (p = 0.088), suggesting a consumptive coagulopathy. In contrast, while total FXI levels were reduced in sepsis, they failed to correlate with illness severity, thrombosis, or hematologic parameters. We establish, for the first time, that rFXI is increased in patients with sepsis and correlates with illness severity (APACHE II score and platelet count) and pathological coagulopathy (overt DIC). Total FXI levels, in contrast, are decreased in sepsis but fail to associate with any indices. These findings suggest that rFXI has unique activity in human sepsis.
- Factor XI