Cutaneous burn injury represents a major risk factor for the development of traumatic ectopic bone formation following blast-related extremity injury

Cassie J Rowe, Uloma Nwaolu, Daniela Salinas, Jefferson L Lansford, Conor F McCarthy, Joseph A Anderson, Michael S Valerio, Benjamin K Potter, Philip J Spreadborough, Thomas A Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Blast-related traumatic heterotopic ossification (tHO) impacts clinical outcomes in combat-injured patients, leading to delayed wound healing, inflammatory complications, and reduced quality of life. Blast injured patients often have significant burns. This study investigated whether a partial thickness thermal burn injury exacerbates blast-related tHO in a clinically relevant polytrauma animal model. Adult male Sprague Dawley rats were subjected to an established model involving a whole-body blast overpressure exposure (BOP), complex extremity trauma followed by hind limb amputation (CET) followed by the addition of a 10 % total body surface area (TBSA) second degree thermal burn (BU). Micro-CT scans on post-operative day 56 showed a significant increase in HO volume in the CET + BU as compared to the CET alone injury group (p < .0001; 22.83 ± 3.41 mm 3 vs 4.84 ± 5.77 mm 3). Additionally, CET + BU concomitant with BOP significantly increased HO (p < .0001; 34.95 ± 7.71 mm 3) as compared to CET + BU alone, confirming BOP has a further synergistic effect. No HO was detectable in rats in the absence of CET. Serum analysis revealed similar significant elevated (p < .0001) levels of pro-inflammatory markers (Cxcl1 and Il6) at 6 h post-injury (hpi) in the CET + BU and BOP + CET + BU injury groups as compared to naïve baseline values. Real-time qPCR demonstrated similar levels of chondrogenic and osteogenic gene expression in muscle tissue at the site of injury at 168 hpi in both the CET + BU and BOP+CET + BU injury groups. These results support the hypothesis that a 10 % TBSA thermal burn markedly enhances tHO following acute musculoskeletal extremity injury in the presence and absence of blast overpressure. Furthermore, the influence of BOP on tHO cannot be accounted for either in regards to systemic inflammation induced from remote injury or inflammatory-osteo-chondrogenic expression changes local to the musculoskeletal trauma, suggesting that another mechanism beyond BOP and BU synergistic effects are at play. Therefore, these findings warrant future investigations to explore other mechanisms by which blast and burn influence tHO, and testing prophylactic measures to mitigate the local and systemic inflammatory effects of these injuries on development of HO.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117029
StateE-pub ahead of print - 6 Feb 2024


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