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World J Surg. 1992 Jan-Feb;16(1):30-6.

The role of mediators in the response to thermal injury.

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  • 1Longwood Area Trauma/Burn Center at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


Inflammatory mediators play a major role in both the local burn wound and the systemic response to burn injury. Oxidant and arachidonic acid metabolites are involved in the initial burn edema process. The mediators as well as the cytokines released from activated macrophages also result in an early generalized inflammatory response. The later postburn hyper-metabolism is initiated and perpetuated by these same mediators, especially the cytokines, tumor necrosis factor, interleukin-1, and interleukin-2. Circulating endotoxin from the wound or the gut also appears to be involved. The postburn septic response is now recognized to be the result of inflammation; infection is not necessary. Mediator induced priming of the inflammatory cells by the burn itself results in an exaggerated response to infection in the postburn period. Defining the specific mechanism of injury and mediators involved can result in a major improvement in burn care, especially since many mediator inhibitors are already available for clinical use. It is essential that the clinician understand this pharmacologic manipulation in order to be able to optimally utilize these future advances.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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