Background: Until now, no systematic surveys exist in the literature on the early local and systemic generation of reactive oxygen species and of nitric oxide in response to muscle crush injury. Therefore, this study aims to evaluate the formation of reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide in different tissues (injured and contralateral muscle, liver, kidney, spleen and blood) that is induced by closed muscle trauma.
Methods: 5, 45 and 180 min after induction of blunt trauma to the mouse gastrocnemius muscle, animals were sacrificed, tissues harvested and homogenized, and analyzed for their content of glutathione, nitrate and thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances.
Results: The local formation of reactive oxygen species in the injured muscle started immediately upon induction of the mechanical trauma as indicated by changes in the glutathione redox balance. Liver and kidney did not show any response to trauma; however, a marked and immediate increase in the splenic nitrate content was detected, thus suggesting a specific nitric oxide-dependent response of splenic cells to injury.
Conclusion: We conclude that immediately after the induction of trauma a formation of reactive oxygen species takes place at the site of crush injury. This might constitute the basis of further damage to the injured tissue by free radical-dependent mechanisms. The immediate formation of nitric oxide within the spleen upon muscle crush appears to represent a specific signalling mechanism of the body in response to distant organ injury.