Thermal injury initiates pervasive fibrogenesis in skeletal muscle

Camille R. Brightwell, Madeline E. Hanson, Amina El Ayadi, Anesh Prasai, Ye Wang, Celeste C. Finnerty, Christopher S. Fry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Severe burn injury induces a myriad of deleterious effects to skeletal muscle, resulting in impaired function and delayed recovery. Following burn, catabolic signaling and myofiber atrophy are key fiber-intrinsic determinants of weakness; less well understood are alterations in the interstitial environment surrounding myofibers. Muscle quality, specifically alterations in the extracellular matrix (ECM), modulates force transmission and strength. We sought to determine the impact of severe thermal injury on adaptation to the muscle ECM and quantify muscle fibrotic burden. After a 30% total body surface area dorsal burn, spinotrapezius muscle was harvested from mice at 7 (7d, n = 5), 14 (14d, n = 4), and 21 days (21d, n = 4), and a sham control group was also examined (Sham, n = 4). Expression of transforming growth factor- (TGF), myostatin, and downstream effectors and proteases involved in fibrosis and collagen remodeling were measured by immunoblotting, and immunohistochemical and biochemical analyses assessed fibrogenic cell abundance and collagen deposition. Myostatin signaling increased progressively through 21 days postburn alongside fibrogenic/adipogenic progenitor cell expansion, with abundance peaking at 14 days postburn. Postburn, elevated expression of tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase 1 supported collagen remodeling resulting in a net accumulation of muscle collagen content. Collagen accumulation peaked at 14 days postburn but remained elevated through 21 days postburn, demonstrating minimal resolution of burn-induced fibrosis. These findings highlight a progressive upregulation of fibrogenic processes following burn injury, eliciting a fibrotic muscle phenotype that hinders regenerative capacity and is not resolved with 21 days of recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C277-C287
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Burn
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Fibrogenic/adipogenic
  • Muscle fibrosis
  • Myostatin
  • Progenitor cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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