The use of beta-adrenergic blockade in preventing trauma-induced hepatomegaly

Robert E. Barrow, Robert R. Wolfe, Mohan R. Dasu, Laura N. Barrow, David N. Herndon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that hepatomegaly in burned children can be attenuated or reversed by blocking lipolysis and reducing free fatty acids delivered to the liver. Summary Background Data: Accelerated lipolysis in severely burned children has been shown to play an important role in the accumulation of hepatic TGs. Severely burned children who survive 10 days or more after injury commonly have enlarged livers often twice or more normal size for their sex, age, and weight. Methods: Ninety-eight children, 2 to 18 years of age, with burns covering more than 40% of their body surface and who received either propranolol (β-adrenergic blockade) or placebo were studied. Liver weights were measured by ultrasonic scanning. Body composition changes were identified by dual-image x-ray absorptiometry and validated by whole-body potassium-40 scintillation counting. Discarded abdominal cutaneous adipose tissue was collected before and after propranolol or placebo for microarray analysis. Results: In 80% of severely burned children studied not receiving propranolol, liver sizes increased by 100% or more while 86% of burned children receiving propranolol showed a decrease or no change in liver size over the same period of time after injury. Gene expression patterns of adipose tissue after propranolol treatment showed that all of the identified genes related to lipid metabolism were down-regulated. Conclusions: Data reported here support the hypothesis that β-adrenergic blockade can reduce delivery of fatty acids to the liver and hepatic congestion commonly found in severely burned children by inhibiting lipolysis and reducing hepatic blood flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-120
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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