Cardiometabolic disease risk markers are increased following burn injury in children

Sofina Begum, Samantha Lodge, Drew Hall, Blair Z. Johnson, Sze How Bong, Luke Whiley, Nicola Gray, Vanessa S. Fear, Mark W. Fear, Elaine Holmes, Fiona M. Wood, Jeremy K. Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Burn injury in children causes prolonged systemic effects on physiology and metabolism leading to increased morbidity and mortality, yet much remains undefined regarding the metabolic trajectory towards specific health outcomes. Methods: A multi-platform strategy was implemented to evaluate the long-term immuno-metabolic consequences of burn injury combining metabolite, lipoprotein, and cytokine panels. Plasma samples from 36 children aged 4–8 years were collected 3 years after a burn injury together with 21 samples from non-injured age and sex matched controls. Three different 1H Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopic experiments were applied to capture information on plasma low molecular weight metabolites, lipoproteins, and α-1-acid glycoprotein. Results: Burn injury was characterized by underlying signatures of hyperglycaemia, hypermetabolism and inflammation, suggesting disruption of multiple pathways relating to glycolysis, tricarboxylic acid cycle, amino acid metabolism and the urea cycle. In addition, very low-density lipoprotein sub-components were significantly reduced in participants with burn injury whereas small-dense low density lipoprotein particles were significantly elevated in the burn injured patient plasma compared to uninjured controls, potentially indicative of modified cardiometabolic risk after a burn. Weighted-node Metabolite Correlation Network Analysis was restricted to the significantly differential features (q <0.05) between the children with and without burn injury and demonstrated a striking disparity in the number of statistical correlations between cytokines, lipoproteins, and small molecular metabolites in the injured groups, with increased correlations between these groups. Discussion: These findings suggest a ‘metabolic memory’ of burn defined by a signature of interlinked and perturbed immune and metabolic function. Burn injury is associated with a series of adverse metabolic changes that persist chronically and are independent of burn severity and this study demonstrates increased risk of cardiovascular disease in the long-term. These findings highlight a crucial need for improved longer term monitoring of cardiometabolic health in a vulnerable population of children that have undergone burn injury.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1105163
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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