Chronic wounds have a large impact on health, affecting ∼6.5 M people and costing ∼$25B/year in the US alone . We previously discovered that a genetically modified mouse model displays impaired healing similar to problematic wounds in humans and that sometimes the wounds become chronic. Here we show how and why these impaired wounds become chronic, describe a way whereby we can drive impaired wounds to chronicity at will and propose that the same processes are involved in chronic wound development in humans. We hypothesize that exacerbated levels of oxidative stress are critical for initiation of chronicity. We show that, very early after injury, wounds with impaired healing contain elevated levels of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species and, much like in humans, these levels increase with age. Moreover, the activity of anti-oxidant enzymes is not elevated, leading to buildup of oxidative stress in the wound environment. To induce chronicity, we exacerbated the redox imbalance by further inhibiting the antioxidant enzymes and by infecting the wounds with biofilm-forming bacteria isolated from the chronic wounds that developed naturally in these mice. These wounds do not re-epithelialize, the granulation tissue lacks vascularization and interstitial collagen fibers, they contain an antibioticresistant mixed bioflora with biofilm-forming capacity, and they stay open for several weeks. These findings are highly significant because they show for the first time that chronic wounds can be generated in an animal model effectively and consistently. The availability of such a model will significantly propel the field forward because it can be used to develop strategies to regain redox balance that may result in inhibition of biofilm formation and result in restoration of healthy wound tissue. Furthermore, the model can lead to the understanding of other fundamental mechanisms of chronic wound development that can potentially lead to novel therapies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)