These are such ingenious and clever two papers
Serious physical injury, or trauma, is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, Patients who survive the initial trauma, despite medical and surgical care, often remain critically ill. One cause of this extension of danger is the systemic inflammatory response syndrome with shock and compromised function of several organs. The clinical symptoms of post-traumatic syndromes, fever, increased heart rate and low blood pressure (shock) are similar to the signs and symptoms of the systemic inflammatory response to severe infection, i.e. sepsis. The molecular mechanism of these severe problems has been poorly understood.
In Nature 4th March 2010 Zhang et al. identify one of the pathways that triggers trauma associated syndromes and links it to pathways implicated in sepsis-associated syndromes.
It was previously proposed that traumatic stress syndrome was due to bacterial escaping from the bowel and infecting the patient. Zhang et al suggest that mitochondria are the link. Mitochondria are believed to be organelles that originated from bacteria that parasitized eukaryotic cells and retain many similarities with bacteria. So during trauma these mitochondria pour out of the damaged tissues and cause a form of sepsis.
Calfee and Matthay 2010 Culprits with evolutionary ties Nature vol 464 pp 41-42
Zhang 2010 Circulating mitochondrial DAMPs cause inflammatory responses to injury Nature vol 464 pp 104-107
- Martin Eastwood