Bacterial translocation (BT) occurs after thermal injury in rodents in association with intestinal barrier loss. Infection complicating thermal injury may also affect the intestine producing bowel atrophy. To study these relationships, Wistar rats received either 30% scald followed by wound inoculation with Pseudomonas; 30% scald with pair feeding to infected animals; or sham injury as controls. On days 1, 4, and 7 after injury animals were killed with examination of the bowel and culture of the mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN), livers, spleens, and blood. All burned animals demonstrated BT to the MLN on day 1 after injury, but only burn-infected animals had continued BT on days 4 and 7, with progression of BT to the abdominal organs and blood. Burn injury and infection also resulted in significant atrophy of small bowel mucosa temporally associated with continued BT. Thus injury complicated by infection results in prolonged and enhanced bacterial translocation, perhaps due to failure to maintain the mucosal barrier.
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