Adult skin wounds in the fetal environment heal with scar formation.
OBJECTIVE:This study investigated the influence of the fetal environment on the healing characteristics of adult skin. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA:The remarkable ability of the fetus to heal without scarring is poorly understood. The unique qualities of fetal wound healing may be caused by the fetal environment, the fetal tissues, or a combination of both. There are numerous differences between the prenatal and postnatal environments that may play a role in the unique fetal response to injury. METHODS:Full-thickness adult sheep skin was transplanted onto the backs of 60-day-gestation fetal lambs (term, 145 days of gestation). The adult skin grafts were thus perfused by fetal blood and bathed in amniotic fluid. Previous work has demonstrated that, before midgestation, fetal lambs do not reject allogenic skin grafts. Forty days later (100 days of gestation), incisional wounds were made on both the adult skin graft and the adjacent fetal skin. The wounds were harvested 14 days postwounding and analyzed by both light microscopy and immunohistochemical testing using antibodies to collagen types I, III, and VI. RESULTS:The wounds in the adult skin grafts healed with scar formation. This observation contrasts strongly with the scarless healing of the incisional fetal skin wounds. CONCLUSIONS:This study suggests that scarless fetal skin healing properties are intrinsic to fetal skin and are not primarily the result of the fetal environment.
Longaker, MT; Whitby, DJ; Ferguson, MW; Lorenz, HP; Harrison, MR; Adzick, NS
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