Molecular Medicine

, Volume 17, Issue 5–6, pp 516–522 | Cite as

Insulin Protects against Hepatic Damage Postburn

  • Marc G Jeschke
  • Robert Kraft
  • Juquan Song
  • Gerd G Gauglitz
  • Robert A Cox
  • Natasha C Brooks
  • Celeste C Finnerty
  • Gabriela A Kulp
  • David N Herndon
  • Darren Boehning
Research Article


Burn injury causes hepatic dysfunction associated with endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and induction of the unfolded protein response (UPR). ER stress/UPR leads to hepatic apoptosis and activation of the Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling pathway leading to vast metabolic alterations. Insulin has been shown to attenuate hepatic damage and to improve liver function. We therefore hypothesized that insulin administration exerts its effects by attenuating postburn hepatic ER stress and subsequent apoptosis. Male Sprague Dawley rats received a 60% total body surface area (TBSA) burn injury. Animals were randomized to receive saline (controls) or insulin (2.5 IU/kg q. 24 h) and euthanized at 24 and 48 h postburn. Burn injury induced dramatic changes in liver structure and function, including induction of the ER stress response, mitochondrial dysfunction, hepatocyte apoptosis, and up-regulation of inflammatory mediators. Insulin decreased hepatocyte caspase-3 activation and apoptosis significantly at 24 and 48 h postburn. Furthermore, insulin administration decreased ER stress significantly and reversed structural and functional changes in hepatocyte mitochondria. Finally, insulin attenuated the expression of inflammatory mediators IL-6, MCP-1, and CINC-1. Insulin alleviates burn-induced ER stress, hepatocyte apoptosis, mitochondrial abnormalities, and inflammation leading to improved hepatic structure and function significantly. These results support the use of insulin therapy after traumatic injury to improve patient outcomes.



The authors wish to thank Hal K Hawkins for assistance with the transmission electron microscopy. We also like to thank Eileen Figueroa and Steven Schuenke for their assistance in editing the manuscript. This work was supported by the Shriners Hospitals for Children grants 8660 (MG Jeschke), 8640 (MG Jeschke), 8760 (DN Herndon), 9145 (DN Herndon), and National Institutes of Health grants GM081685 (DB Boehning), GM008256 (DN Herndon), R01 GM087285 (MG Jeschke) and GM60338 (DN Herndon).


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Copyright information

© The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc G Jeschke
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
  • Robert Kraft
    • 1
    • 2
  • Juquan Song
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gerd G Gauglitz
    • 1
    • 6
  • Robert A Cox
    • 1
  • Natasha C Brooks
    • 3
  • Celeste C Finnerty
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gabriela A Kulp
    • 1
  • David N Herndon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Darren Boehning
    • 4
  1. 1.Shriners Hospitals for ChildrenThe University of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryThe University of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyThe University of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Neuroscience and Cell BiologyThe University of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA
  5. 5.Director Ross Tilley Burn Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Department of Surgery Division of Plastic SurgeryUniversity of Toronto Senior Scientist Sunnybrook Research InstituteTorontoCanada
  6. 6.Department of DermatologyLudwig-Maximilians University of MunichMunichGermany

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