Current and emerging treatments for neonatal sepsis

Federico Carbone, Fabrizio Montecucco, Amirhossein Sahebkar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Introduction: Mortality due to sepsis is still prevalent, peaking at extreme ages of life including infancy. Despite many efforts, the peculiarity of the infant immune system has limited further advances in its treatment. Indeed, neonates experience a dramatic physiological transition from immune tolerance to the maternal antigens to functional maturity. Such a transition is extremely dynamic, as is the pathophysiology of infant sepsis, which is dependent on many infant, maternal, and environmental factors. Areas covered: In this review, the authors critically update and summarize the current paradigm of immunomodulation in infant sepsis. They confirm how exogenous stimulation of the immune system through intravenous immunoglobulin, colony stimulating factors, and granulocyte transfusion have failed to impact on the prognosis of infant sepsis. They also strongly support the beneficial effects of supplementation/replacement therapies with products naturally contained within maternal milk as well as antioxidant compounds. Expert opinion: Breastfeeding is beneficial against sepsis. Knowledge of the neonatal immune system is indeed too limited to effectively strengthen immune response by exogenous interventions, especially in preterm and low-birth-weight infants. Awareness of this limitation should pave the way for future studies (e.g. gender- and omics-based) aimed at better characterizing the infant immune system and promoting a more tailored approach.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExpert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020



  • immunomodulation
  • Infant sepsis
  • lactoferrin
  • probiotics
  • zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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