Cellular power plant or "enemy within?
Inflammation is at the root of most serious complications occurring after both infection and injury. But while the molecular course of events that leads from microbial infections to the inflammatory condition called sepsis is fairly well understood, it is far less clear how and why physical injury can result in a similarly dangerous inflammatory response.
Now a study led by investigators at BIDMC suggests that mitochondria - the body's cellular "power plants" -- are released into the bloodstream following physical injury. And because mitochondria closely resemble the bacteria from which they originated, they appear to elicit a sepsis-like immune response, changing from a vital source of cellular injury to a dangerous "enemy within."
Appearing in the journal Nature, the findings could eventually lead to new strategies in the management of trauma as well as to the development of new tests to help clinicians discriminate between infective and non-infective inflammation.
"The body's vital organs can become dysfunctional when traumatic injury triggers the Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, or SIRS," explains senior author Carl J. Hauser, MD, a trauma and critical care surgery specialist at BIDMC and Visiting Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. "Trauma kills 5 to 10 million people worldwide per year and among U.S. individuals under age 35, trauma accounts for more deaths than all other illnesses combined. Inflammatory complications are directly responsible for about one-third of those deaths."
For more, click here.