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Insulin resistance with its associated hyperglycemias represents one significant contributor to mortality in burned patients. A variety of cellular stress-signaling pathways are activated as a consequence of burn. A key player in the cellular stress response is the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Here, we investigated a possible role for ER-stress pathways in the progression of insulin function dysregulation postburn. Rats received a 60% total body surface area thermal injury, and a laparotomy was performed at 24, 72, and 192 h postburn. Liver was harvested before and 1 min after insulin injection (1 IU/kg) into the portal vein, and expression patterns of various proteins known to be involved in insulin and ER-stress signaling were determined by Western blotting. mRNA expression of glucose-6-phosphatase and glucokinase were determined by reverse-transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and fasting serum glucose and insulin levels by standard enzymatic and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay techniques, respectively. Insulin resistance indicated by increased glucose and insulin levels occurred starting 24 h postburn. Burn injury resulted in activation of ER stress pathways, reflected by significantly increased accumulation of phospho-PKR-like ER-kinase and phosphorylated inositol requiring enzyme 1, leading to an elevation of phospho-c-Jun N-terminal kinase and serine phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrate (IRS) 1 postburn. Insulin administration caused a significant increase in tyrosine phosphorylation of IRS-1, leading to activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase/Akt pathway in normal liver. Postburn tyrosine phosphorylation of IRS-1 was significantly impaired, associated with an inactivation of signaling molecules acting downstream of IRS-1, leading to significantly elevated transcription of glucose-6-phosphatase and significantly decreased mRNA expression of glucokinase. Activation of ER-stress signaling cascades may explain metabolic abnormalities involving insulin action after burn.

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