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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Jan;294(1):E1-9. Epub 2007 Oct 23.

Postburn trauma insulin resistance and fat metabolism.

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  • 1Donald W Reynolds Institute on Aging, 4301 W. Markham St., Slot 806, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA.


Hyperglycemia and insulin resistance have long been recognized in severe burn patients. More recently, it has been observed that controlling hyperglycemia, or alleviating insulin resistance, is associated with improved outcomes. This has led to a renewed interest in the etiology of insulin resistance in this population. The postinjury hyperglycemic response appears to be associated with multiple metabolic abnormalities, such as elevated basal energy expenditure, increased protein catabolism, and, notably, significant alterations in fat metabolism. The synergy of all of the responses is not understood, although many studies have been conducted. In this article we will review the present understanding of the relationship between fat metabolism and insulin resistance posttrauma, and discuss some of the recent discoveries and potential therapeutic measures. We propose that the insulin resistance is likely related to the development of "ectopic" fat stores, i.e., triglyceride (TG) storage in sites such as the liver and muscle cells. Deposition of TG in ectopic sites is due to an increase in free fatty acid delivery secondary to catecholamine-induced lipolysis, in conjunction with decreased beta-oxidation within muscle and decreased hepatic secretion of fats. The resultant increases in intracellular TG or related lipid products may in turn contribute to alterations in insulin signaling.

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