The effect of burn injuries on the brain and behaviour

Miss Amira Allahham1

1UWA, Crawley, Australia



Burn patients are more prone to mental health conditions following their injury as recently demonstrated using population-based studies in Western Australia. The inflammatory response to a burn injury, may lead to immune changes in the brain that underlie the long-term increase of mental health hospital admissions observed. A mouse model will be used to: 1) investigate the changes in behaviour following burn injury, and 2) determine the genes in the brain with altered expression following burn-injury.


Mice were allocated into two intervention groups; a burn group which received a non-severe burn injury 7-8% of the total body surface area administered under anaesthesia (n=15), and a sham group that received the anaesthesia and no injury (n=15). Mice were tested through a series of five behavioural tests at three timepoints; before, 1 month after, and 3 months after their intervention. At the conclusion of the experiment mice were euthanized and their brains were collected for genetic analysis through RNA sequencing.


The behavioural tests showed no significant difference before and after the burns, however, RNA sequencing showed significant changes in genes associated with pathways of neurodegenerative diseases.

Although the behaviour of mice after burn injuries was not significantly altered, the physiological and genetic change after the burn is very clear. More investigation of the genetic pathways after burns is required to understand the impact of burn injuries on the brain to eventually be able to understand and treat the mental health conditions that arise after burns.



Amira is a member of the Burn Injury Research Unit of the Fiona Wood Foundation, and is a second year PhD student at the school of biomedical science in UWA. She has a background in neuroscience and is working on multiple projects including investigating the changes in the behaviour of mice after a burn injury, investigating inflammation in mice after burn injuries, analysing the genetic changes of in mice brains after burns, investigating the changes in the quality of life of paediatric burn patients, investigating paediatric burn patients’ stress levels through mass spectrometry analysis of hydrocortisone in hair samples.

Recent Comments