We've updated our Privacy Policy to make it clearer how we use your personal data.

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. You can read our Cookie Policy here.


Wound Healing and Clearing Power of Fibroblasts Revealed

Two plasters forming a cross.
Credit: ElasticComputeFarm, Pixabay

Want a FREE PDF version of this news story?

Complete the form below and we will email you a PDF version of "Wound Healing and Clearing Power of Fibroblasts Revealed"

Listen with
Register for FREE to listen to this article
Thank you. Listen to this article using the player above.
Read time:

Burn wounds are notoriously prone to bacterial infection and typically lead to a larger amount of scar tissue than laceration wounds.

In APL Bioengineering, by AIP publishing, researchers from Boston University and Harvard University created a biomimetic model to study wound healing in burn and laceration wounds. They discovered that fibroblasts – normally considered building cells that give shape and strength to tissues and organs – clear away damaged tissue before depositing new material. This part of the healing process is slower in burn wounds, where more tissue damage is present.

Want more breaking news?

Subscribe to Technology Networks’ daily newsletter, delivering breaking science news straight to your inbox every day.

Subscribe for FREE

Cell biologists identify four phases of wound healing: bleeding stoppage, inflammation, new tissue formation, and tissue strengthening. During the inflammation and formation stages, immune cells are thought to clear bacteria and dead cells from the wound. They also activate fibroblasts and blood vessels to begin repairs.

“Depending on the injury, the extent and duration of these four phases can wildly vary across different wound types,” said author Jeroen Eyckmans. “Given that laceration wounds are well perfused with blood, they tend to heal well. However, in burns, the blood vessels are cauterized, preventing blood from entering the wound bed and slowing down the healing process. Severe burn wounds also have large amounts of dead tissue that physically block new tissue formation.”

To study how the mode of injury impacts the healing rate of wounds, the team designed an in vitro model system made of fibroblasts embedded in a collagen hydrogel. Wounds were created in this microtissue using a microdissection knife to mimic laceration or a high-energy laser to simulate a burn.

Although both wound types were equal in size, laser ablation caused more cell death and tissue damage next to the wound margins compared to knife wounds.

“During healing, we found that the fibroblasts first cleared the damaged material from the wound before depositing new material,” said Eyckmans. “This was a surprising finding because removal of dead tissue has been attributed to specialized immune cells such as macrophages, and fibroblasts have been considered to be tissue-building cells, not tissue-removal cells.”

Given that there was more tissue damage in the laser ablation wounds, it took fibroblasts more time to remove the damage, ultimately delaying tissue healing.

Based on these findings, therapies that promote wound clearance could accelerate healing. Genetically engineered white blood cells, designed to remove dead tissue, could be particularly useful for reaching injured organs and tissues deep in the body.

Reference: Griebel M, Vasan A, Chen C, Eyckmans J. Fibroblast clearance of damaged tissue following laser ablation in engineered microtissues. APL Bioengineering. 2023;7(1):016112. doi: 10.1063/5.0133478

This article has been republished from the following materials. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.