Tissue-specific glucose toxicity induces mitochondrial damage in a burn injury model of critical illness

Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.
Critical care medicine (Impact Factor: 6.31). 03/2009; 37(4):1355-64. DOI: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e31819cec17
Source: PubMed


In critically ill patients, preventing hyperglycemia (HG) with insulin therapy partially prevented organ dysfunction and protected mitochondria. A study in a rabbit model of critical illness indicated that lower blood glucose level, rather than higher insulinemia, is a key factor in such organ protection. In this model, we now investigated the impact of blood glucose lowering vs. hyperinsulinemia (HI) on mitochondria in relation to organ damage. We assessed whether such effects on mitochondria are mediated indirectly via organ perfusion or directly via reducing cellular glucose toxicity.
Prospective, randomized laboratory investigation.
University laboratory.
Three-month-old male rabbits.
After induction of critical illness by burn injury, followed by fluid-resuscitation and parenteral nutrition, rabbits were allocated to four groups, each a combination of normal or elevated blood glucose levels with normal or elevated insulin levels. This required alloxan administration, immediately followed by intravenous insulin and glucose infusions titrated to the respective targets.
In liver, the reduced damage by glucose lowering was not explained by better perfusion/oxygen delivery. Abnormal mitochondrial ultrastructure and function was present in the two hyperglycemic groups, most pronounced with concomitant HI. Affected mitochondrial respiratory chain enzyme activities were reduced to 25% to 62% of values in healthy rabbits, in the presence of up to five-fold increased tissue levels of glucose. This was accompanied by elevated levels of dicarbonyls, which may mediate direct toxicity of cellular glucose overload and accelerated glycolysis. The abnormalities were also present in myocardium, although to a lesser extent, and absent in skeletal muscle.
In a rabbit model of critical illness, HG evokes cellular glucose overload in liver and myocardium inducing mitochondrial dysfunction, which explained the HG-induced organ damage. Maintenance of normoglycemia, but not HI, protects against such mitochondrial and organ damage.

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