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January 1986

Thermal Injury Promotes Bacterial Translocation From the Gastrointestinal Tract in Mice With Impaired T-Cell—Mediated Immunity

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery (Dr Deitch and Mr Winterton) and Microbiology (Dr Berg), Louisiana State University Medical Center, Shreveport.

Arch Surg. 1986;121(1):97-101. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1986.01400010111015

• We have shown previously that after thermal trauma viable bacteria will cross the intact gastrointestinal mucosa (bacterial translocation) to invade the mesenteric lymph nodes and other organs if the normal indigenous microflora is disrupted, allowing bacterial overgrowth. To determine whether T-cell—mediated immunity (T-CMI) was important in preventing translocation after thermal injury in animals with an intact normal flora, conventional (+/+ ), athymic (nu/nu), and heterozygous (nu/+ ) mice receiving a 30% third-degree burn were killed at various intervals after burn and their organs cultured. Bacterial translocation did not occur in control or burned specific pathogen-free mice with intact T-CMI but did occur in athymic mice with deficient T-CMI. Both the incidence of positive organs and the numbers of translocated bacteria per gram of organ were increased after thermal injury. Bacterial overgrowth was not responsible for these findings, since the levels of cecal enteric bacteria were not different between the burned and nonburned groups. Since translocation occurred to a greater extent in athymic burned mice than control athymic mice, it appears that a thermal injury promotes translocation by impairing other host defense systems in addition to the T-CMI.

(Arch Surg 1986;121:97-101)

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