BACKGROUND The incidence of burn injuries in older patients is dramatically increasing as the population of older people grows. Despite the increased demand for elderly burn care, the mechanisms that mediate increased morbidity and mortality in older trauma patients are unknown. We recently showed that a burn injury invokes white adipose tissue browning that leads to a substantially increased hypermetabolic response associated with poor outcomes. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the effect of age on the metabolic adipose response of browning after a burn injury.METHOD One hundred and seventy patients with burn injury admitted to the Ross Tilley Burn Centre were prospectively enrolled and grouped by age as older (≥50 years) and young (≤35 years). Adipose tissue and sera were collected and analyzed for browning markers and metabolic state via histology, gene expression, and resting energy expenditure assays.RESULTS We found that older patients with burn injury lacked the adipose browning response, as they showed significant reductions in uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) expression. This failure of the browning response was associated with reduced whole-body metabolism and decreased survival in older patients with burn injury. Mechanistically, we found that the adipose of both aged patients after burn trauma and aged mice after a burn showed impairments in macrophage infiltration and IL-6, key immunological regulators of the browning process after a severe trauma.CONCLUSION Targeting pathways that activate the browning response represents a potential therapeutic approach to improve outcomes after burn trauma for elderly patients.FUNDING NIH (R01-GM087285-01), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (grant no. 123336), and Canada Foundation for Innovation Leaders Opportunity Fund (no. 25407).
Abdikarim Abdullahi, Carly M. Knuth, Christopher Auger, Thibacg Sivayoganathan, Alexandra Parousis, Marc G. Jeschke