Researchers find key to regulation of skin wound healing

Researchers led by a team at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm have found hope for chronic wounds through the use of microRNAs to regulate skin wound healing, according to a press release.

MicroRNAs, or miRNAs, are short pieces of genetic code that regulate the expression of genes.

“There is very little known about the expression and function of miRNAs in human skin wounds, but we have previously shown that miRNAs play important roles in the regulation of the cells in the outermost layer of the skin, also called keratinocytes,” Ning Xu Landén, MD, PhD, principal investigator at the department of Medicine, Solna, Karolinska Institutet, said in the press release.

In a new study, the results of which were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Landén and colleagues collected skin biopsies from the edges of wounds and looked for changes in miRNA expression during the healing process. They found the expression of miR-132 increased during the first phase of wound healing, known as the inflammatory phase, and then peaked again in the second phase, the proliferative phase.

They found that miR-132 caused fewer immune cells to move to the wound during the inflammatory phase. A lack of miR-132 led to more immune cells and, hence, increased inflammation. During the proliferative phase, miR-132 promoted keratinocyte growth. A lack of miR-132 in this phase decreased cell growth, causing wounds to take longer to heal.

“Our results show that miR-132 is important during the transition from the inflammatory to the proliferative phase and therefore acts as a critical regulator of skin wound healing,” Landén said. “Due to its pro-healing capacity, miR-132 may be an attractive therapeutic target for chronic skin wounds. Our goal is to develop a microRNA-based treatment to promote healing.”

Reference: Landén N, et al. J Clin Invest. 2015; doi:10.1172/JCI79052.

Disclosure: The researchers report the research was funded by the Swedish Research Council, LA ROCHE-POSAY Foundation, Hedlunds Foundation, Welander and Finsens Foundation, the Von Kantzow Foundation, the Strategic Research Programme in Diabetes and Karolinska Institutet.

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