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J Cell Mol Med. 2011 Apr;15(4):861-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2010.01057.x.

Connexin 43 mimetic peptide Gap27 reveals potential differences in the role of Cx43 in wound repair between diabetic and non-diabetic cells.

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Department of Dermatology and Venerology, University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.


During early wound healing (WH) events Connexin 43 (Cx43) is down-regulated at wound margins. In chronic wound margins, including diabetic wounds, Cx43 expression is enhanced suggesting that down-regulation is important for WH. We previously reported that the Cx43 mimetic peptide Gap27 blocks Cx43 mediated intercellular communication and promotes skin cell migration of infant cells in vitro. In the present work we further investigated the molecular mechanism of Gap27 action and its therapeutic potential to improve WH in skin tissue and diabetic and non-diabetic cells. Ex vivo skin, organotypic models and human keratinocytes/fibroblasts of young and old donors and of diabetic and non-diabetic origin were used to assess the impact of Gap27 on cell migration, proliferation, Cx43 expression, localization, phosphorylation and hemichannel function. Exposure of ex vivo WH models to Gap27 decreased dye spread, accelerated WH and elevated cell proliferation. In non-diabetic cell cultures Gap27 decreased dye uptake through Cx hemichannels and after scratch wounding cells showed enhanced migration and proliferation. Cells of diabetic origin were less susceptible to Gap27 during early passages. In late passages these cells showed responses comparable to non-diabetic cells. The cause of the discrepancy between diabetic and non-diabetic cells correlated with decreased Cx hemichannel activity in diabetic cells but excluded differences in Cx43 expression, localization and Ser368-phosphorylation. These data emphasize the importance of Cx43 in WH and support the concept that Gap27 could be a beneficial therapeutic to accelerate normal WH. However, its use in diabetic WH may be restricted and our results highlight differences in the role of Cx43 in skin cells of different origin.

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