Reactive oxygen species, biofilm keep chronic wound infections from healing

A combination of reactive oxygen species and biofilm formed by selective invading bacteria can cause chronic wound infections from healing, according to a recently presented study.

Researchers inhibited two antioxidant enzymes, glutathione peroxidase and catalase, to identify the central role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the maintenance of chronic wound infections. Although the enzymes help maintain normal tissue levels of ROS, researchers found the amount of ROS in the wounds increased and the biofilm strengthened when they were inhibited. Excessive ROS induced chronic inflammation and when combined with biofilm, ROS created a toxic environment, making it difficult for wounds to heal and close. Study results also showed the two antioxidant enzymes were more damaging if they were inhibited in combination.

The researchers also found that if they applied vitamin E and N-Acetyl cysteine, the activities of glutathione peroxidase and catalase were restored, ROS levels decreased and the bacterial biofilm disintegrated in the wound, developing a healthier wound tissue and leading to wound healing.

“Our results show for the first time that by deliberately modulating specific parameters, we can create chronic wounds and then reverse chronicity by antioxidant treatment,” Manuela Martins-Green, a professor of cell biology at the University of California, Riverside, stated. “These findings should help in unravel the mechanisms underlying the development of chronic wounds and hence in identifying potential targets for treatment of these wounds in humans.”

For more information:

Martins-Green M. Presented at: American Society for Cell Biology Annual Meeting. Dec. 14-18, 2013; New Orleans.

Disclosure: This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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