Skin cells build ‘bridges’ during wound healing

December 22, 2013

New research indicates that outer skin cells are able to unite to form a bridge during wound healing. The finding may lead to advances in tissue engineering, artificial skin design and improved wound treatment.

 

New research indicates that outer skin cells are able to unite to form a bridge during wound healing. The finding may lead to advances in tissue engineering, artificial skin design and improved wound treatment.

The researchers, from the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Mechanobiology Institute in Singapore and the Institut Jacques Monod in Paris, found that skin cells can move over areas without support from the extracellular matrix - structural proteins to which cells can adhere.

The researchers discovered that keratinocytes can create suspended multicellular bridges over regions with poor cell adhesion. The keratinocytes comprise a homogeneous group that forms a barrier over a wound.

Study authors also discovered that the cell sheet is formed by the build-up of large-scale tensions activated by acto-myosin, a motor protein that causes cellular contraction. The cell sheets have more elastic characteristics, whereas other cell types tend to have more fluid characteristics.

“Our study will hopefully pave the way for designing better alternatives that can overcome the current limitations in the field of skin-tissue engineering and promote satisfactory skin regeneration,” Lim Chwee Teck, Ph.D., an NUS professor and a study leader, is quoted by Medical News Today. “Some potential applications include treating skin burn wounds as well as characterizing the mechanical properties of cell sheets.”

The researchers say they intend to continue working on expanding the uses of tissue mechanobiology for skin cells in order to fight conditions such as blistering diseases and changes to the skin due to aging.

The research was published online Dec. 1 in the journal Natural Materials.