Indexed on: 29 Oct '10Published on: 29 Oct '10Published in: Stem cells and development
Fetal wound healing involves minimal inflammation and limited scarring. Its mechanisms, which remain to be fully elucidated, hold valuable clues for wound healing modulation and the development of regenerative strategies. We sought to determine whether fetal wound healing includes a hitherto unrecognized cellular component. Two sets of fetal lambs underwent consecutive experiments at midgestation. First, fetuses received an intra-amniotic infusion of labeled autologous amniotic mesenchymal stem cells (aMSCs), in parallel to different surgical manipulations. Subsequently, fetuses underwent creation of 2 symmetrical, size-matched skin wounds, both encased by a titanium chamber. One of the chambers was left open and the other covered with a semipermeable membrane that allowed for passage of water and all molecules, but not any cells. Survivors from both experiments had their wounds analyzed at different time points before term. Labeled aMSCs were documented in all concurrent surgical wounds. Covered wounds showed a significantly slower healing rate than open wounds. Paired comparisons indicated significantly lower elastin levels in covered wounds at the mid time points, with no significant differences in collagen levels. No significant changes in hyaluronic acid levels were detected between the wound types. Immunohistochemistry for substance P was positive in both open and covered wounds. We conclude that fetal wound healing encompasses an autologous yet exogenous cellular component in naturally occurring aMSCs. Although seemingly not absolutely essential to the healing process, amniotic cells expedite wound closure and enhance its extracellular matrix profile. Further scrutiny into translational implications of this finding is warranted.