Background: Reestablishment of the peripheral nervous system occurs in parallel with wound healing. With accelerated wound healing seen with the vacuum-assisted closure device, the authors studied its effects on nerve fiber regeneration, nerve sprouting, and the stimulation of neuropeptides and neurotrophins. Methods: A vacuum-assisted closure device was applied to a full-thickness diabetic mouse wound using continuous or cyclical modes and compared with foam dressing or occlusive dressing controls, using 10 mice per group. Nerve fibers, substance P, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and nerve growth factor were analyzed using two-dimensional immunohistochemistry and real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. Results: A significant increase in dermal and epidermal nerve fiber densities and in substance P, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and nerve growth factor expression was seen in vacuum-assisted closure-treated wounds. Cyclical treatment mode correlated with the largest increase in granulation tissue production, wound surface microdeformations, and a slightly faster wound closure rate. Conclusions: This study suggests that vacuum-assisted closure therapy can modulate nerve fiber and neuropeptide production in the wound. Optimized kinetics of vacuum-assisted closure application may provide an opportunity for clinicians to further improve wound healing in denervated wounds such as pressure sores and diabetic foot ulcerations.
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