Overview of Wound Healing

Robert Diegelman (April 30, 2012)

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Abstract

The normal healing response begins the moment the tissue is injured. As the blood components spill into the site of injury, the platelets come into contact with exposed collagen and other elements of the extracellular matrix. This contact triggers the platelets to release clotting factors as well as essential growth factors and cytokines such as platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-Ÿ). Following hemostasis, the neutrophils then enter the wound site and begin the critical task of phagocytosis to remove foreign materials, bacteria and damaged tissue. As part of this inflammatory phase, the macrophages appear and continue the process of phagocytosis as well as releasing more PDGF and TGFŸ. Once the wound site is cleaned out, fibroblasts migrate in to begin the proliferative phase and deposit new extracellular matrix. The new collagen matrix then becomes cross-linked and organized during the final remodeling phase. In order for this efficient and highly controlled repair process to take place, there are numerous cell-signaling events that are required. In pathologic conditions such as non-healing pressure ulcers, this efficient and orderly process is lost and the ulcers are locked into a state of chronic inflammation characterized by abundant neutrophil infiltration with associated reactive oxygen species and destructive enzymes. Healing proceeds only after the inflammation is controlled. On the opposite end of the spectrum, fibrosis is characterized by excessive matrix deposition, contraction and reduced remodeling. New technologies utilizing PTFE tube implantation have been developed to analyze inflammation and tissue repair in humans. On days 3, 5, 7 and 14 the tubes are removed and the newly deposited cells and matrix components are characterized using histologic, immuno-staining and proteomic analysis. These ongoing studies will be discussed.