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Lab Invest. 2000 Mar;80(3):345-57.

Enhanced expression of caspase-3 in hypertrophic scars and keloid: induction of caspase-3 and apoptosis in keloid fibroblasts in vitro.

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Second Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, Toho University, Tokyo, Japan.


Recent studies have suggested that the regulation of apoptosis during wound healing is important in scar establishment and development of pathological scarring. To examine the phenomenon of apoptosis and its involvement in the process of pathological scarring, we immunohistochemically quantified differential levels of expression of caspase-3 and -2, which are activated during apoptosis in vitro, in surgical resected scar tissues. We divided 33 cases of normally healed flat scars and 18 cases of pathological scars (15 cases of hypertrophic scars and 3 cases of keloid) into three groups (S1 = <10 months' duration; S2 = 10 to 40 months' duration; and S3 = >40 months' duration) according to the duration of scar. In all three groups examined, the semiquantitative scores for caspase-3 staining were significantly higher for the combination of hypertrophic scars and keloid as a group compared with normally healed flat scars, suggesting reduced cell survival and increased apoptotic cell death in hypertrophic scars and keloid. Apoptosis and caspase proteolytic activities were examined in vitro using two flat scar-derived fibroblast lines (FSFB-1 and -2) and two keloid-derived fibroblast lines (KFB-1 and -2). After 24 hours of serum deprivation, apoptotic cells were significantly increased in both KFB lines, whereas serum deprivation of FSFB-1 cells did not result in a significant increase in apoptotic cell number. After serum deprivation, significant increases in caspase-3 proteolytic activities were detected in both KFB lines compared with both FSFB lines. In contrast, no significant differences with caspase-8 activity were observed between similarly treated KFB and FSFB lines. Furthermore, serum deprivation-induced apoptosis of KFB-2 cells was significantly inhibited by the caspase-3 inhibitor Ac-Asp-Glu-Val-Asp-fluoromethyl ketone (DEVD-FMK), indicating that caspase-3 is important for serum deprivation-induced apoptosis in KFB-2 cells. Considering the role of caspase-3 as a key effector molecule in the execution of apoptotic stimuli, our results suggested that enhanced expression of caspase-3 in hypertrophic scars and keloid induces apoptosis of fibroblasts, which may play a role in the process of pathological scarring.

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