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Ann Surg. 1991 Apr;213(4):292-6.

Studies in fetal wound healing. V. A prolonged presence of hyaluronic acid characterizes fetal wound fluid.

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Fetal Treatment Program, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0506.


Midgestation fetal wound healing is characterized by healing without fibrosis or scar formation. The mechanisms that underlie this remarkable process are mediated in part through a fetal wound extracellular matrix rich in hyaluronic acid. In this study a newly developed assay was used to determine the hyaluronic acid levels in fetal and adult wound fluid. Adult wound fluid had a rapid increase in hyaluronic acid, which peaked at 3 days and decreased to 0 by 7 days. In contrast levels of hyaluronic acid in fetal wound fluid increased rapidly and remained significantly elevated for 3 weeks. This prolonged presence of hyaluronic acid in the matrix of fetal wounds creates a 'permissive' wound environment that promotes fetal fibroblast movement and proliferation and inhibits cytodifferentiation. Such a matrix environment promotes healing by regeneration rather than by scarring. This observation has therapeutic implications. The prolonged application of hyaluronic acid or hyaluronate protein complexes to wounds in children or adults may modulate healing in a manner that makes the wounds more fetal-like.

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