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Traumatic injury sets off a 'genomic storm' in immune system pathways
Date:12/7/2011

Serious traumatic injuries, including major burns, set off a "genomic storm" in human immune cells, altering around 80 percent of the cells' normal gene expression patterns. In a report to appear in the December Journal of Experimental Medicine, members of a nationwide research collaborative describe the initial results of their investigation into the immune system response to serious injury, findings which have overturned some longstanding assumptions.

"We have discovered there is a highly reproducible genomic response to injury that is essentially the same no matter the patient's individual genetic background, whether the injury was caused by major trauma or serious burns, or if recovery is rapid or complicated," says Ronald G. Tompkins, MD, ScD, director of the Sumner Redstone Burn Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and principal investigator of the study. "When this project was organized more than a decade ago, the question was raised whether responses would differ so much from person to person that no patterns would appear. It is amazing how similar our responses to injuries like serious burns or trauma actually are."

The Inflammation and Host Response to Injury consortium (http://www.gluegrant.org) was established in 2001 to investigate how the human body responds to injury and what factors set off excessive, uncontrolled inflammation that can lead to the overwhelming body-wide infection called sepsis or to multi-organ dysfunction syndrome, a life-threatening failure of vital systems. To lay the groundwork for further studies, the research team analyzed whole-genome expression patterns in white blood cells from 167 patients being treated for severe trauma at seven U.S. hospitals. Blood samples were taken within 12 hours of the injury and several times during the next 28 days. Gene expression pattern changes were tracked and compared with samples from 133 patients treated
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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