Background: High mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is an important "late" inflammatory mediator in bacterial sepsis. Ethyl pyruvate (EP), an inhibitor of HMGB1, can prevent bacterial sepsis by decreasing HMGB1 levels. However, the role of HMGB1 in fungal sepsis is still unclear. Therefore, we investigated the role of HMGB1 and EP in invasive C. albicans infection. Methods: We measured serum HMGB1 levels in patients with sepsis with C. albicans infection and without fungal infection, and control subjects. We collected clinical indices to estimate correlations between HMGB1 levels and disease severity. Furthermore, we experimentally stimulated mice with C. albicans and C. albicans + EP. Then, we examined HMGB1 levels from serum and tissue, investigated serum levels of tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) and interleukin 6 (IL-6), determined pathological changes in tissues, and assessed mortality. Results: Serum HMGB1 levels in patients with severe sepsis with C. albicans infection were elevated. Increased HMGB1 levels were correlated with procalcitonin (PCT), C-reactive protein (CRP), 1,3-β-D-Glucan (BDG) and C. albicans sepsis severity. HMGB1 levels in serum and tissues were significantly increased within seven days after mice were infected with C. albicans . The administration of EP inhibited HMGB1 levels, decreased tissue damage, increased survival rates and inhibited the release of TNF-α and IL-6. Conclusions: HMGB1 levels were significantly increased in invasive C. albicans infections. EP prevented C. albicans lethality by decreasing HMGB1 expression and release. HMGB1 may provide an effective diagnostic and therapeutic target for invasive C. albicans infections.
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