Researchers from Birmingham University say they have made a breakthrough in understanding why severe infections are linked to life-threatening blood clots.
The study, which involved tests on mice, specifically looked at Salmonella infection and related thrombosis or clotting.
Crucially, the researchers found thrombosis was not directly caused by the bacteria but instead triggered by the immune system’s response to sepsis – a process not previously known about.
The team hope their findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, could lead to new, more effective ways of treating thrombosis in such cases.
Professor Adam Cunningham, from the University of Birmingham, said: “For all of the advances we’ve made in this field, it is not always clear why people die from infection. We think complications of thrombosis may be one reason.”
The research was part-funded by the charity the British Heart Foundation.
“This study has identified a previously unknown pathway linking the activation of the immune system, which is caused by a bacterial infection, with thrombosis,” said the foundation’s research adviser Subreena Simrick.
“This insight into a novel mechanisms involved in thrombosis could help develop new approaches to regulate blood clotting in sepsis,” she said.