In skin, the regeneration of the ontogenically distinct mesenchymal and epithelial compartments must proceed in a coordinated manner orchestrated by extracellular signaling networks. We have recently found that the switch from regeneration to remodeling during repair is modulated by
chemokines that bind CXCR3 receptor. If this signaling is disrupted wounds continue to be active, resulting in a chronic hypercellular and hypertrophic state characterized by an immature matrix composition. As healing is masterminded in large part by fibroblasts and their synthesis of the
extracellular matrix, the question arose as to whether this ongoing scarring can be modulated by transplanted fibroblasts. We examined wounds in the CXCR3−/− mouse scarring model. These wounds exhibited a significant delay in healing in all areas compared to young and aged wild-type
mice. Full-thickness wounds were transplanted with fibroblasts derived from newborn CXCR3−/− or wild-type mice. The transplanted fibroblasts were labeled with fluorescent dye (CM-DiI) and suspended in hyaluronic acid gel; by 30 days, these transplanted cells comprised some 30%
of the dermal stromal cells regardless of the host or source of transplanted cells. Wild-type fibroblasts transplanted into CXCR3−/− mice wounds reversed the delay and dysfunction previously seen in CXCR3−/− wounds; this correction was not noted with transplanted CXCR3−/−
fibroblasts. Additionally, transplant of CXCR3−/− cells into wounds in wild-type animals did not adversely affect those wounds. The transplanted fibroblasts exhibited strong survival and migration patterns and led to an increase in tensile strength. Expression of matrix proteins
and collagen in CXCR3−/− wounds transplanted with wild-type fibroblasts resembled normal wild-type healing, and the wound matrix in wild-type mice transplanted with CXCR3−/− cells also presented a mature matrix. These suggest that the major determinant of healing versus
scarring lies with the nature of the matrix. These findings have intriguing implications for rational cellular interventions aimed at promoting wound healing via cell therapy.
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Document Type: Research Article
Department of Pathology and McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh VAMC, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Publication date: 2012-05-01
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