Burn and thoracic trauma alters fracture healing, systemic inflammation, and leukocyte kinetics in a rat model of polytrauma

Lauren H. Mangum, Joshua J. Avila, Brady J. Hurtgen, Alicia L. Lofgren, Joseph C. Wenke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Singular traumatic insults, such as bone fracture, typically initiate an appropriate immune response necessary to restore the host to pre-insult homeostasis with limited damage to self. However, multiple concurrent insults, such as a combination of fracture, blunt force trauma, and burns (polytrauma), are clinically perceived to result in abnormal immune response leading to inadequate healing and resolution. To investigate this phenomenon, we created a model rat model of polytrauma. Methods: To investigate relationship between polytrauma and delayed healing, we created a novel model of polytrauma in a rat which encompassed a 3-mm osteotomy, blunt chest trauma, and full-thickness scald burn. Healing outcomes were determined at 5 weeks where the degree of bone formation at the osteotomy site of polytrauma animals was compared to osteotomy only animals (OST). Results: We observed significant differences in the bone volume fraction between polytrauma and OST animals indicating that polytrauma negatively effects wound healing. Polytrauma animals also displayed a significant decrease in their ability to return to pre-injury weight compared to osteotomy animals. Polytrauma animals also exhibited significantly altered gene expression in osteogenic pathways as well as the innate and adaptive immune response. Perturbed inflammation was observed in the polytrauma group compared to the osteotomy group as evidenced by significantly altered white blood cell (WBC) profiles and significantly elevated plasma high-mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1) at 6 and 24 h post-trauma. Conversely, polytrauma animals exhibited significantly lower concentrations of plasma TNF-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin 6 (IL-6) at 72 h post-injury compared to OST. Conclusions: Following polytrauma with burn injury, the local and systemic immune response is divergent from the immune response following a less severe singular injury (osteotomy). This altered immune response that follows was associated with a reduced capacity for wound healing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number58
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 19 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Extremity fracture
  • Inflammation
  • Nonunion
  • Polytrauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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