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Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 2002 Jun;52(2):82-90.

Contractility of single human dermal myofibroblasts and fibroblasts.

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Department of Biology, University of York, York, United Kingdom.


Human dermal myofibroblasts, characterised by the expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin, are part of the granulation tissue and implicated in the generation of contractile forces during normal wound healing and pathological contractures. We have compared the contractile properties of single human dermal fibroblasts and human dermal myofibroblasts by culturing them on flexible silicone elastomers. The flexibility of the silicone substratum permits the contractile forces exerted by the cells to be measured [Fray et al., 1998: Tissue Eng. 4:273-283], without changing their expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin. The mean contractile force produced by myofibroblasts (2.2 microN per cell) was not significantly different from that generated by fibroblasts (2.0 microN per cell) when cultured on a substrata with a low elastomer stiffness. Forces produced by fibroblasts were unaffected by increases in elastomer stiffness, but forces measured for myofibroblasts increased to a mean value of 4.1 microN/cell. This was associated with a higher proportion of myofibroblasts being able to produce wrinkles on elastomers of high stiffness compared to fibroblasts. We discuss the force measurements at the single cell level, for both fibroblast and myofibroblasts, in relation to the proposed role of myofibroblasts in wound healing and pathological contractures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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