Severe injury activates many stress-related and inflammatory pathways that can lead to a systemic hypermetabolic state. Prior studies using perfused hypermetabolic rat livers have identified intrinsic metabolic flux changes that were not dependent upon the continual presence of elevated stress hormones and substrate loads. We investigated the hypothesis that such changes may be due to persistent alterations in gene expression. A systemic hypermetabolic response was induced in rats by applying a moderate burn injury followed 2 days later by cecum ligation and puncture (CLP) to produce sepsis. Control animals received a sham-burn followed by CLP, or a sham-burn followed by sham-CLP. Two days after CLP, livers were analyzed for gene expression changes using DNA microarrays and for metabolism alterations by ex vivo perfusion coupled with Metabolic Flux Analysis. Burn injury prior to CLP increased fluxes while decreases in gene expression levels were observed. Conversely, CLP alone significantly increased metabolic gene expression, but decreased many of the corresponding metabolic fluxes. Burn injury combined with CLP led to the most dramatic changes, where concurrent changes in fluxes and gene expression levels occurred in about 1/3 of the reactions. The data are consistent with the notion that in this model, burn injury prior to CLP increased fluxes through post-translational mechanisms with little contribution of gene expression, while CLP treatment up-regulated the metabolic machinery by transcriptional mechanisms. Overall, these data show that mRNA changes measured at a single time point by DNA microarray analysis do not reliably predict metabolic flux changes in perfused livers.
(c) 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.