The body's overwhelming genetic defense, which has implications for the survival of patients who are severely burned or injured, was revealed in a sweeping analysis of gene activity in volunteers who were injected with a bacterial product that temporarily created flu-like symptoms.
"During a 24-hour period, the expression of more than 3,700 genes changed in blood leukocytes," said Lyle Moldawer, Ph.D., a surgery professor in the University of Florida College of Medicine, part of the national consortium that published the findings. "It was a dramatic reprioritization of genes. But beyond individual genes, we were able to look at networks, or functional modules of different gene clusters, that change in concordance with one another. We have now identified previously unknown relationships among different genes that tell us in greater detail how blood cells respond to an infectious challenge."
Inflammation is part of normal healing when people are severely burned or injured, but in some patients, it can be fatal, causing bloodstream infections and multiple organ failure. Learning how and why inflammation becomes harmful will help doctors more accurately predict how each injured patient will fare.
"This work represents a major step in understanding inflammation in severely injured or burned patients," said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the component of the National Institutes of Health that funded the research. "We hope this knowledge eventually will help physicians better predict patient outcomes and tailor treatments accordingly."
UF Genetics Institute researchers are part of a national group of scientists united by a five-year, $37 mi
Contact: John Pastor
University of Florida