Chronic abdominal sepsis is associated with impaired tissue repair. Treatment of burn patients with growth hormone results in improved healing of skin graft donor sites. The goal of this study was to determine whether administration of growth hormone could attenuate the inhibitory effects of sepsis on cutaneous wound healing. Four groups of male Sprague-Dawley rats were studied: control, control + growth hormone, sepsis, and sepsis + growth hormone. Sepsis was caused by implantation of a bacterial focus in the peritoneal cavity. Control animals underwent sham laparotomy, and polyvinyl alcohol sponge implants were placed in subdermal pockets in all animals. Saline or growth hormone (400 μg) was injected subcutaneously every 12 hours. On day 5, the incisional wounds and polyvinyl alcohol sponge implants were harvested. The breaking strength of abdominal incisions was measured. Granulation tissue penetration and quality were determined by scoring polyvinyl alcohol sponge implant histology from 1 to 4 in a blinded fashion. Collagen deposition in polyvinyl alcohol sponge implants was quantitated by hydroxyproline assay. Septic mortality was not altered by growth hormone administration. Septic animals showed a reduction in food consumption for 2 days after surgery (p < 0.05 vs. controls), which was not affected by growth hormone administration. The breaking strength of incisional wounds and hydroxyproline content of polyvinyl alcohol sponge implants was reduced in septic rats (p < 0.001 vs. controls) but administration of growth hormone for 5 days did not improve breaking strength or collagen deposition in either group. We conclude that the administration of growth hormone for 5 days did not improve collage n deposition or breaking strength in cutaneous wounds from control or septic animals. The results suggest that growth hormone treatment is unlikely to improve tissue repair in sepsis-induced catabolic illness.
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