BACKGROUND: Severe trauma can induce pathophysiological responses that have marked inflammatory components. The development of systemic inflammation following severe thermal injury has been implicated in immune dysfunction, delayed wound healing, multi-system organ failure and increased mortality.
METHODS: In this study, we examined the impact of thermal injury-induced systemic inflammation on the healing response of a secondary wound in the MRL/MpJ mouse model, which was anatomically remote from the primary site of trauma, a wound that typically undergoes scarless healing in this specific strain. Ear-hole wounds in MRL/MpJ mice have previously displayed accelerated healing and tissue regeneration in the absence of a secondary insult.
RESULTS: Severe thermal injury in addition to distal ear-hole wounds induced marked local and systemic inflammatory responses in the lungs and significantly augmented the expression of inflammatory mediators in the ear tissue. By day 14, 61% of the ear-hole wounds from thermally injured mice demonstrated extensive inflammation with marked inflammatory cell infiltration, extensive ulceration, and various level of necrosis to the point where a large percentage (38%) had to be euthanized early during the study due to extensive necrosis, inflammation and ear deformation. By day 35, ear-hole wounds in mice not subjected to thermal injury were completely closed, while the ear-hole wounds in thermally injured mice exhibited less inflammation and necrosis and only closed partially (62%). Thermal injury resulted in marked increases in serum levels of IL-6, TNFalpha, KC (CXCL1), and MIP-2alpha (CXCL2). Interestingly, attenuated early ear wound healing in the thermally injured mouse resulted in incomplete tissue regeneration in addition to a marked inflammatory response, as evidenced by the histological appearance of the wound and increased transcription of potent inflammatory mediators.
CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that the observed systemic inflammatory response of a severe thermal injury undoubtedly has an adverse effect on wound healing and tissue regeneration.