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Shock. 2015 Sep;44(3):258-64. doi: 10.1097/SHK.0000000000000410.

Severe Burn Injury Induces Thermogenically Functional Mitochondria in Murine White Adipose Tissue.

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*Metabolism Unit, Shriners Hospitals for Children; and Departments of †Surgery, ‡Anesthesiology, and §Internal Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas.


Chronic cold exposure induces functionally thermogenic mitochondria in the inguinal white adipose tissue (iWAT) of mice. Whether this response occurs in pathophysiological states remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of severe burn trauma on iWAT mitochondrial function in mice. Male BALB/c mice (10-12 weeks) received full-thickness scald burns to ∼30% of the body surface area. Inguinal white adipose tissue was harvested from mice at 1, 4, 10, 20, and 40 days postinjury. Total and uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1)-dependent mitochondrial thermogenesis were determined in iWAT. Citrate synthase activity was determined as a proxy of mitochondrial abundance. Immunohistochemistry was performed to assess iWAT morphology and UCP1 expression. Uncoupling protein 1-dependent respiration was significantly greater at 4 and 10 days after burn compared with sham, peaking at 20 days after burn (P < 0.001). Citrate synthase activity was threefold greater at 4, 10, 20, and 40 days after burn versus sham (P < 0.05). Per mitochondrion, UCP1 function increased after burn trauma (P < 0.05). After burn trauma, iWAT exhibited numerous multilocular lipid droplets that stained positive for UCP1. The current findings demonstrate the induction of thermogenically competent mitochondria within rodent iWAT in a model of severe burn trauma. These data identify a specific pathology that induces the browning of white adipose tissue in vivo and may offer a mechanistic explanation for the chronic hypermetabolism observed in burn victims.

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