Unexpected helpers in wound healing

January 24, 2018

Nerve cells in the skin help wounds to heal. When an injury occurs, cells known as glial cells change into repair cells and disseminate into the wound, where they help the skin to regenerate, researchers from the University of Zurich have shown.

An essential step in skin wound healing is wound closure, which is why shortly after an injury occurs, blood coagulates and seals the wound. For the injury to be able to heal permanently, however, the affected layers of the skin need to be newly formed. For that to happen, a complex, only partially understood interplay takes place between various cell types in our skin. Together with a team from ETH, Lukas Sommer, a professor in the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Zurich, and his research group have now been able to show that peripheral nerve cells play a central role in this healing process. The research group is part of "Skintegrity," a flagship project of the University Medicine Zurich initiative.

Glial cells change their identity

There have long been indications that for optimal healing to occur, a tissue needs to be innervated (i.e. supplied with nerves). The reason, however, remained unclear. With the help of an animal model, the researchers from Skintegrity discovered that fine nerve bundles change drastically if they are injured when a skin wound occurs. Cells along the injured nerve bundles, known as glial cells, change their original identity and are reprogrammed to "repair cells." They thereby lose their contact to the nerve bundles and disseminate into the wound bed. "There, they distribute a diverse cocktail of factors, which support the wound healing," explains Lukas Sommer. Through genetic experiments, he was able to prove that, among other things, these repair cells were important to help the wound close as they support the necessary reconstitution of the dermis.

Healing chronic wounds

In older people or people with diabetes, for example, wounds often heal slowly or, in some cases, not at all. Such chronic wounds usually cause serious health problems and treatment is currently unsatisfactory. Interestingly, the researchers from Skintegrity also found reprogrammed peripheral nerve cells in human skin wounds. "Now we want to work together with clinicians from the University Hospital Zurich to better characterize the wound healing factors that are distributed by nerve cells," says Sommer. "This may lead to an effective treatment for chronic wounds in the future."
-end-


University of Zurich

Related Nerve Cells Articles from Brightsurf:

Nerve cells let others "listen in"
How many ''listeners'' a nerve cell has in the brain is strictly regulated.

Nerve cells with energy saving program
Thanks to a metabolic adjustment, the cells can remain functional despite damage to the mitochondria.

Why developing nerve cells can take a wrong turn
Loss of ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme leads to impediment in growth of nerve cells / Link found between cellular machineries of protein degradation and regulation of the epigenetic landscape in human embryonic stem cells

Unique fingerprint: What makes nerve cells unmistakable?
Protein variations that result from the process of alternative splicing control the identity and function of nerve cells in the brain.

Ragweed compounds could protect nerve cells from Alzheimer's
As spring arrives in the northern hemisphere, many people are cursing ragweed, a primary culprit in seasonal allergies.

Fooling nerve cells into acting normal
In a new study, scientists at the University of Missouri have discovered that a neuron's own electrical signal, or voltage, can indicate whether the neuron is functioning normally.

How nerve cells control misfolded proteins
Researchers have identified a protein complex that marks misfolded proteins, stops them from interacting with other proteins in the cell and directs them towards disposal.

The development of brain stem cells into new nerve cells and why this can lead to cancer
Stem cells are true Jacks-of-all-trades of our bodies, as they can turn into the many different cell types of all organs.

Research confirms nerve cells made from skin cells are a valid lab model for studying disease
Researchers from the Salk Institute, along with collaborators at Stanford University and Baylor College of Medicine, have shown that cells from mice that have been induced to grow into nerve cells using a previously published method have molecular signatures matching neurons that developed naturally in the brain.

Bees can count with just four nerve cells in their brains
Bees can solve seemingly clever counting tasks with very small numbers of nerve cells in their brains, according to researchers at Queen Mary University of London.

Read More: Nerve Cells News and Nerve Cells Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.