Insulin Protects against Hepatic Damage Postburn Journal Articles uri icon

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  • 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.


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

publication date

  • May 2011