Sepsis is a life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by dysregulated host response to an infection. The metabolic aberrations associated with sepsis underly an acute and organism-wide hyperinflammatory response and multiple organ dysfunction; however, crosstalk between systemic metabolomic alterations and metabolic reprogramming at organ levels remains unknown. We analyzed substrate utilization by the respiratory exchange ratio, energy expenditure, metabolomic screening, and transcriptional profiling in a cecal ligation and puncture model to show that sepsis increases circulating free fatty acids and acylcarnitines but decreases levels of amino acids and carbohydrates, leading to a drastic shift in systemic fuel preference. Comparative analysis of previously published metabolomics from septic liver indicated a positive correlation with hepatic and plasma metabolites during sepsis. In particular, glycine deficiency was a common abnormality of the plasma and liver during sepsis. Interrogation of the hepatic transcriptome in septic mice suggested that the septic liver may contribute to systemic glycine deficiency by downregulating genes involved in glycine synthesis. Interestingly, intraperitoneal injection of the pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) inhibitor dichloroacetate reversed sepsis-induced anorexia, energy imbalance, inflammation, dyslipidemia, hypoglycemia, and glycine deficiency. Collectively, our data indicated that PDK inhibition rescued systemic energy imbalance and metabolic dysfunction in sepsis partly through restoration of hepatic fuel metabolism.


Tae Seok Oh, Manal Zabalawi, Shalini Jain, David Long, Peter W. Stacpoole, Charles E. McCall, Matthew A. Quinn


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