A group led by Dr. Yasunori Okada at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan has demonstrated that matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are instrumental in wound healing.
Wound healing is the complex process of regenerating dermal and epidermal tissue after skin injury. MMPs, which can degrade proteins, are essential in breaking down wounded tissues to allow for wound healing; however, the specific function of individual MMPs in wounded tissues requires further study.
Using mouse models that lacked individual MMPs, Hattori et al noted that wound closure in MMP-deficient mice was significantly delayed compared with normal mice. Both MMPs examined played key roles in movement of skin cells, and one contributed to new blood vessel growth as well. Topical treatment with MMPs increased the rate of wound healing in these mice, providing a possible therapeutic strategy for treating delayed wound healing.
Dr. Okada and colleagues "have provided the first evidence of the importance of MMP-9 and MMP-13 on cutaneous wound healing by demonstrating that [mice that lack either] MMP-9, MMP-13, or both MMP-9/13 exhibit a significant delay in macroscopic wound closure and histological re-epithelialization. … [Their data] suggest the possible treatment of delayed wound healing by the application of the MMPs or inducers of the MMPs."
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