Exposure to amniotic fluid inhibits closure of open wounds in the fetal rabbit.

Research paper by J H JH Haynes, B A BA Mast, T M TM Krummel, I K IK Cohen, R F RF Diegelmann

Indexed on: 01 Oct '95Published on: 01 Oct '95Published in: Wound Repair and Regeneration


In many species, open cutaneous fetal wounds do not heal in utero. Such open wounds have been shown to close only after their exclusion from amniotic fluid, thus leading to the hypothesis that amniotic fluid inhibits open wound healing. Therefore the effect of amniotic fluid exposure on the healing of open fetal skin wounds was studied. Fetuses of New Zealand White rabbits received a full-thickness circular 4 mm diameter skin punch biopsy wound. Wounds were left uncovered, covered with a latex patch, or covered with a latex patch with a central hole (doughnut). This third group provided for wound exposure to amniotic fluid while controlling for any wound splinting effect of the patch. Wounds were harvested after 5 days, the wound area was determined planimetrically, and wound edges were examined by means of light microscopy. Analysis of glycosaminoglycans in the wound extra-cellular matrix was performed on a separate group of wounds treated similarly. Uncovered wounds enlarged by an average of 60%, whereas wounds covered with the doughnut patch enlarged by an average of 24%. In contrast, the wounds in the patch-covered group decreased in size by an average of 84%. Histologically all groups contained proliferating fibroblasts and epithelial migration at the wound edge but also an absence of granulation tissue. The patch-covered wounds, which had decreased wound area, were significantly enriched in hyaluronic acid. These results suggest that the healing of the patch-covered wounds occurs without the formation of granulation tissue, presumably through a process of cellular migration and proliferation and that healing was inhibited by exposure to amniotic fluid. Hyaluronic acid has been shown to be permissive of cellular migration and to play a key role in tissue regeneration. Therefore, we speculate that direct exposure of open wounds to amniotic fluid during the late stages of fetal development in the rabbit prevents hyaluronic acid deposition, which in turn may alter wound closure.