To heal chronic wounds, level inflammation

U. QUEENSLAND (AUS) — Researchers have successfully restored wound healing in a model of diabetes—results that may pave the way for new treatments for chronic wounds.

Different subpopulations of white blood cells called macrophages have different, and sometimes opposing effects on wound healing, says Mathieu Rodero, from the Centre for Clinical Research at the University of Queensland, who recently studied the behavior of macrophages during normal and defective wound healing.

“Macrophages play a critical role in wound closure; however also cause the excessive inflammation, which results in defective wound healing,” Rodero says.


As reported in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Rodero and colleagues found a macrophage subpopulation associated with healing that was missing in a model of diabetic wounds that could not close.

An analysis of these subpopulations identified a group of “non-inflammatory” macrophages, which increased in proportion during normal wound healing, but were absent in delayed healing or chronic wounds.

“This is the first time that subpopulations of macrophages from a tissue have been analyzed and compared with such scrutiny,” Rodero says. “We were able to clearly identify the role of macrophages in the inflammation and repair phases, and ultimately restore the balance between these two aspects by using anti-inflammatory strategies.”

An aging population, coupled with an increase in conditions such as diabetes or obesity, had seen the prevalence of chronic wounds increasing in recent years.

“Most of us are programmed to heal skin wounds promptly and avoid related complications,” Rodero says.

Rodero is part of a research team led by Associate Professor Kiarash Khosrotehrani who focuses on skin-wound healing.  Khosrotehrani says chronic wounds cost the Australian government $2.6 billion per year.

“For those who are more fragile, such as the elderly, this process can be inadequate, resulting in chronically open wounds,” he says. “Being able to modulate the inflammation to promote the healing of wounds is a novel and exciting prospect to improve our patients.”

Source: University of Queensland