Role of polyamine biosynthesis during gut mucosal adaptation after burn injury

Dai H. Chung, B. Mark Evers, Courtney M. Townsend, K. Fon Huang, David N. Herndon, James C. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The induction of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) mRNA and of ODC enzyme activity are important events in gut repair after cutaneous burn injury. ODC catalyzes the rate-limiting step in the biosynthesis of polyamines that are necessary for normal cell growth; α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) specifically inhibits ODC activity. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of polyamines in the adaptive response of gut mucosa after burn injury. In experiment 1, male Sprague-Dawley rats (250 to 300 g; n=6/group) were randomized into sham, 60% burn, or 60% burn plus DFMO. In experiment 2, rats with either a 60% burn or 60% burn plus DFMO treatment received spermidine by gavage. We measured ODC activity, polyamine levels, and DNA content at 0, 12, 24, and 48 hours postburn in the mucosa of both the proximal and distal small intestine. Burn injury produced early atrophy (by 12 hours postburn) of the gut mucosa characterized by decreased mucosal weight and DNA content. Increased ODC activity and polyamine content in both the proximal and distal gut mucosa of burned rats preceded restoration of mucosal weight and DNA content that occurred at 48 hours postburn; these responses were prevented by DFMO treatment. Spermidine administration failed to accelerate gut mucosal recovery after burn injury alone, but oral administration of spermidine reversed the inhibitory action of DFMO on gut mucosal repair. These data suggest that the early increases of gut ODC activity and polyamine levels after burn injury are crucial cellular events for the repair of subsequent gut mucosa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-149
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1993

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
From the Department of Surgery, The Universityo f Texas Medical Branch, and Shriners Burns Institute,G alveston,T exas. Supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (PO1 DK 35608, 5R37 DK 15241 and SRC-4(3), IT32 GM 08256-01A1), Shriners Burns Institute (# 15867), the AmericanC ancerS ociety( PDT-220E), and in conjunctionw ith the Walls Medical Research Foundation.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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