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Apoptosis as a mechanism for burn-induced gastric mucosal injury

Minka Aleksandrova Hristova, Maria Tzaneva, Ganka Bekyarova, Dariya Chivchibashi



Introduction: Severe thermal burns disturb tissue homeostasis of many organs, but the exact mechanisms of gastric mucosa changes are not yet clear. Various cellular mechanisms, such as cell activation, mitochondrial dysfunction, free oxygen radicals and cytokine overproduction may be involved in this process.

Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), apoptotic proteins Bax and Bcl-2 in normal gastric mucosa and to test the hypothesis that oxidative stress activation induces apoptotic processes in the stomach after experimental thermal trauma.

Materials and Methods: Under anesthesia, the shaved rats` dorsum was exposed to 90° C bath for 10 s to induce third-degree burn injury, involving 30% of the total body surface area. We determined the tissue level of MDA, a lipid peroxidation marker, by spectrophotometric method and the apoptosis of epithelial cells in gastric mucosa, which was immunohistochemically determined at the level of Bcl-2 and Bax in burn trauma.

Results: The gastric MDA level was higher (p<0.01) in the burned group compared to the control group 24 hours after thermal injury. The gastric mucosa in the treated group showed congestion, degenerative changes in the surface epithelium, focal destruction of glandular epithelium with formation of acute erosions. Bax expressed moderately in epithelial cells, predominantly in the basal parts of the gastric glands, while in the control group protein content was localized in the same region, but it was weak. Bcl-2 protein in the control group revealed nuclear expression in surface epithelium, while in the basal layer of gastric mucosa the expression was moderate and mainly cytoplasmic. In the burned group, Bcl-2 expression was more diffuse, nuclear and cytoplasmic, but cytoplasmic expression was weak.

Conclusion: Thermal skin trauma induces gastric mucosal injury through the activation of lipid peroxidation, increase of pro-apoptotic Bax protein expression and decrease of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein expression in epithelial cells. We suggest that apoptosis is a possible mechanism for structural changes in the gastric mucosa.


thermal burns, gastric mucosa, apoptosis, lipid peroxidation

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About The Authors

Minka Aleksandrova Hristova
Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology

Medical University of Varna

Maria Tzaneva
Department of General and Clinical Pathology

Medical University of Varna

Ganka Bekyarova
Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology

Medical University of Varna

Dariya Chivchibashi
Department of General and Clinical Pathology

`St. Marina` University Hospital, Varna

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