muscle cell illustration with UTMB logo

New Study Unlocks Potential Treatment for Muscle Wasting in Burn Injuries

Jul 28, 2023, 10:43 AM by UTMB Surgery

A recent UTMB study has made significant strides in our understanding of muscle wasting and inflammation following severe burn injuries. This collaborative research, titled “Acute muscle mass loss was alleviated with HMGB1 neutralizing antibody treatment in severe burned rats” was conducted by members of UTMB Surgery, Microbiology & Immunology, Orthopedic Surgery, and the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity. The study sheds light on the role of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) and its potential as a therapeutic target. 

The study, conducted on rat models, found that acute burn injury led to substantial muscle loss. However, when HMGB1 was neutralized with antibodies, burn wound size decreased, and muscle mass was preserved in the hind limbs. This indicates that HMGB1 neutralization could be a promising approach to prevent muscle loss in burn patients. 

Additionally, HMGB1 neutralization controlled the activation of proinflammatory immune cells, reducing inflammatory responses in muscle tissues. By inhibiting autophagy and cell death pathways, HMGB1 neutralization also showed potential in preserving muscle integrity. 

Though more research is needed, these findings pave the way for innovative treatment strategies to improve patient outcomes and enhance their quality of life after severe burn injuries. 

A message from Dr. Wolf: 
“This finding provides a potentially new avenue to address cachexia after severe injury through affecting the inflammatory process rather than using traditional approaches of stimulating muscle synthesis.” 

Congratulations, researchers!