A study conducted in the Stanford University School of Medicine on USA has discovered a way to cure to minimize or eliminate scars of the skin in case of wounds. The study has been published in the prestigious journal ‘Science’.
The big finding has been to unravel the scar-promoting role of a specific class of dermal fibroblast cells. Specifically, by preventing these cells from expressing the transcription factor Engrailed-1, the researchers reprogrammed these cells to take on a different identity, capable of regenerating injured skin, including restoring structures such as hair follicles and sweat glands that they are absent in scarred skin tissue.
Notably, this revealing research work has been carried out in mice, but could lead to therapies to limit or completely avoid scarring in people. A revolutionary way in the field of healing.
In this sense, the researchers observed that fibroblast cells expressing En-1 – called Engrailed-1 lineage positive fibroblasts (EPF) – are involved in scar formation. However, the exact underlying mechanisms are unknown.
Discovery about wound healing
In this analysis carried out in mice and led by Professor Shamik Mascharak, it was observed that the progenitor cells of PF do not express En-1 in newborn and baby mice. However, fully functional EPFs are a known feature of adult mammalian skin wounds.
Therefore, one of the objectives of this research work was to check whether EPFs proliferate in mammals as they age or if they spread locally at wound sites in response to new damage.
Through a series of tests based on cell transplantation and genetic screening to explore the expression of En-1 in the skin of injured mice, the researchers provided evidence for the existence of certain closely related cells. These are called Engrailed-1 lineage negative fibroblasts (ENFs), which do not express En-1.
The evidence on wound healing
The researchers explain that the mechanical signals activate the canonical yes-related protein (YAP) pathway in ENF cells, in turn causing the cells to begin expressing EN-1 and completing their conversion into scar-promoting EPF cells.
Thus, it was observed how in this way the wounded skin was reconstructed with sweat glands and hair follicles without the need to leave a scar after healing.
‘Tissue scarring is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The findings are therefore very promising not only for scar therapies, but also for the simultaneous activation of the regenerative properties of the skin ”, conclude Piotr Konieczny and Shruti Naik.