It is not easy to detect oxygen free radicals directly because of their very short half-life. In the present study, a sensitive ultraweak chemiluminescence detector was used to detect the generation of oxygen free radicals following thermal injury. Twelve New Zealand white rabbits were used in this study. After anesthesia, the bilateral hind-limbs were exposed to 100°C water for 30 s. Six control animals were exposed to 22°C water to act as a control. The chemiluminescence of whole blood and visceral organs were measured with both luminol-amplified t-butyl hydroperoxide-initiated and lucigenin-initiated methods. The results showed that chemiluminescence of blood was affected significantly by acute thermal injury. The chemiluminescence of blood increased significantly at 1 h following acute thermal injury, reached a peak at 2 h, then decreased but still remained above the control level at 4 h following thermal injury. The results for TBHP-initiated chemiluminescence from visceral organs following acute thermal injury were much higher than that of the control rabbits. The effects of lucigenin-initiated tissue chemiluminescence following acute thermal injury were not statistically significant. It is suggested that the decreased vascular antioxidant activity following local thermal injury is partially contributed by the superoxide pathway while, the remote pathophysiologic events are mediated by the defective scavenging defenses.
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