Background: In severe burns, increased intestinal permeability facilitates bacterial translocation, resulting in systemic endotoxemia and multi-organ failure. We investigated the role of burn-induced gastrointestinal dysmotility (BIGD) in promoting bacterial translocation following burn injury, and the protective effect of ghrelin in this process. Methods: We assessed gastric emptying (GE%) and intestinal transit (IT by geometric center “GC”) in a 60% total body surface area scald burn rat model and measured bacterial counts in mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN) and distal small intestine by colony-forming unit per gram of tissue (CFU/g). A group of animals was treated with ghrelin or saline after burn. Key Results: Scald burn was associated with a significant delay in GE (62% ± 4% vs 74% ± 4%; P =.02) and a trend of delay in intestinal transit (GC: 5.5 ± 0.1 vs 5.8 ± 0.2; P =.09). Concurrently, there was a marginal increase in small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (6 × 105 vs 2 × 105 CFU/g; P =.05) and significant translocation to MLN (2 × 102 vs 4 × 101; P =.03). We observed a negative correlation between GE and intestinal bacterial overgrowth (rs = −0.61; P =.002) and between IT and translocation (rs = −0.63; P =.004). Ghrelin administration significantly accelerated GE following burn injury (91% ± 3% vs 62% ± 4; P =.03), reduced small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and completely inhibited translocation to MLN (0.0 vs 5 × 102; P =.01). Conclusions & Inferences: Burn-induced gastrointestinal dysmotility is correlated with the systemic translocation of gram-negative gut bacteria that are implicated in multiple organ failure in burn patients. Therapeutic interventions to restore BIGD are warranted (Neurogastroenterol Motil, 2012, 24, 78).
- gastric emptying
- intestinal transit
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems