Hyaluronan (HYA) is an important structural element in skin and is presumably participating in regulation of the interstitial fluid volume. HYA is transported via the lymphatics from the tissues to the blood, where its concentration is normally very low. Fluid flux through the interstitium is markedly increased after thermal injury. The present study was performed to determine whether major thermal injury would affect plasma levels of HYA. In halothane-anesthetized sheep subjected to 40% BSA full-thickness scald burns, plasma HYA concentration increased from 116 ± 19 (mean ± SEM) to 172 ± 18 ng/ml within 1 hr after injury (P < 0.05). After 3 hr of fluid therapy plasma HYA concentration was further elevated to 10 times baseline (1417 ± 322 ng/ml) (P < 0.01). To clarify whether this rise represented an increased "washout" of interstitial HYA, attributable either to the burn injury or the subsequent fluid therapy, awake sheep were subjected to overhydration. Following a 3-hr infusion of lactated Ringer's 2.5 liter/hr, plasma HYA concentration increased to 2-3 times baseline. Lung lymph flow and its concentration of HYA increased, leading to an increase in the lymphatic flux of HYA to 10-20 times baseline. In peripheral lymph HYA flux increased 2-3 times baseline. Infusion of lactated Ringer's markedly increased lymphatic removal of HYA. However, plasma concentrations of HYA were 3 times higher after thermal injury than following fluid challenge alone, suggesting that thermal injury per se may also increase input of HYA into the systemic circulation.
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