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Shock. 2003 Oct;20(4):363-8.

Myosin light chain kinase-dependent microvascular hyperpermeability in thermal injury.

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Department of Surgery, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, Temple 76504, USA.


Although the critical role of systemic inflammatory edema in the development of multiple organ failure in patients with massive burns has been fully recognized, the precise mechanisms responsible for the accumulation of blood fluid and proteins in tissues remote from the burn wound are poorly understood. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that circulating factors released during thermal injury cause microvascular leakage by triggering endothelial cell contraction and barrier dysfunction. A third-degree scald burn was induced in rats on the dorsal skin covering 25% total body surface area. The microcirculation and transvascular flux of albumin were observed in the rat mesentery using intravital fluorescence microscopy. The direct effect of circulating factors on microvascular barrier function was assessed by measuring the apparent permeability coefficient of albumin in isolated rat mesenteric venules during perfusion of plasma freshly withdrawn from burned rats. The in vivo study showed that the transvenular flux of albumin was significantly increased over a 6-h period with a maximal response seen at 3 h postburn. Importantly, perfusion of noninjured venules with burn plasma induced a time-dependent increase in albumin permeability. Pharmacological inhibition of protein kinase C, Src tyrosine kinases, or mast cell activation did not significantly affect the hyperpermeability response; however, blockage of myosin light chain phosphorylation with the myosin light chain kinase inhibitor ML-7 greatly attenuated the burn-induced increase in venular permeability in a dose-related pattern. The results support a role for endogenous circulating factors in microvascular leakage during burns. Myosin light chain phosphorylation-dependent endothelial contractile response may serve as an end-point effector leading to microvascular barrier dysfunction.

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