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Biol Cell. 2004 Aug;96(6):443-55.

The multifunctional role of fibroblasts during wound healing in Hirudo medicinalis (Annelida, Hirudinea).

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Department of Structural and Functional Biology, University of Insubria -- Via J.H. Dunant 3, 21100 Varese, Italy.


Extracellular matrix components play a key role during the angiogenic process for a correct development of blood vessels: fibroblasts are the main cell type involved in the regulation of ECM protein production. In this study we characterize H. medicinalis fibroblasts and demonstrate that they take part to the regulation of angiogenesis that occurs during wound healing process. Massive proliferation and phenotypic modification are two distinctive markers of fibroblast activation. These cells, that are usually responsible for collagen production and function as an energy reservoir, are recruited during wound healing to form a collagen scaffold through a direct mechanic action and through secretion of specific proteoglycans. In addition we show that the activity of fibroblasts is modulated by EGF, a growth factor involved in wound healing in vertebrates. The formation of bundles of collagen fibrils by fibroblasts is fundamental for the development and migration of new blood vessels in lesioned areas during wound repair: administration of lovastatin in explanted leeches affects fibroblasts, damages collagen "scaffold" and indirectly causes the reduction of neo-capillary formation.

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