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Anticoagulant therapies against sepsis-induced disseminated intravascular coagulation.

Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a frequent but lethal complication in sepsis. Anticoagulant therapies, such as heparin, antithrombin, activated protein C, and recombinant human-soluble thrombomodulin, were expected to regulate the progression of coagulopathy in sepsis. Although a number of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have evaluated the survival effects of these therapies over the past few decades, there remains no consistent evidence showing a significant survival benefit of anticoagulant therapies. Currently, anticoagulant therapies are not conducted as a standard treatment against sepsis in many countries and regions. However, most of these RCTs were performed overall in patients with sepsis but not in those with sepsis-induced DIC, who were theoretically the optimal target population of anticoagulants. Actually, multiple lines of evidence from observational studies and meta-analyses of the RCTs have suggested that anticoagulant therapies might reduce mortality only when used in septic DIC. In addition, the severity of illness is another essential factor that maximally affects the efficacy of the therapy. Therefore, to provide evidence on the true effect of anticoagulant therapies, the next RCTs must be designed to enroll only patients with sepsis-induced overt DIC and a high severity of illness. To prepare these future RCTs, a novel scientific infrastructure for accurate detection of patients who can receive maximal benefit from anticoagulant therapies also needs to be established.

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