• Burn injury and infection result in significant losses of lean tissue. The cytokine cachectin/tumor necrosis factor has been implicated in this process but is not uniformly detected during infection. We sought to determine the relationship between body composition changes and in vivo hepatic levels of pretranslational message for cachectin (messenger RNA) in a burn and infection rodent model. Adult Wistar rats were grouped as follows: (1) freely fed, (2) 30% burn, (3) 30% burn with Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection, (4) pair fed, and (5) 30% burn and infection with recombinant cachectin. Compared with controls or animals only burned, burned and infected rats had a 100% increase in hepatic cachectin messenger RNA content, lost carcass protein, and exhibited muscle loss with sparing of liver mass. Tissue production of cachectin as well as other cytokines may be sufficient to mediate several body composition changes observed in response to injury and infection.
(Arch Surg 1988;123:1383-1388)