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Cells Tissues Organs. 2011;194(1):25-37. doi: 10.1159/000322399. Epub 2011 Jan 19.

Diminished type III collagen promotes myofibroblast differentiation and increases scar deposition in cutaneous wound healing.

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Department of Clinical Studies and Animal Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


The repair of cutaneous wounds in the postnatal animal is associated with the development of scar tissue. Directing cell activities to efficiently heal wounds while minimizing the development of scar tissue is a major goal of wound management and the focus of intensive research efforts. Type III collagen (Col3), expressed in early granulation tissue, has been proposed to play a prominent role in cutaneous wound repair, although little is known about its role in this process. To establish the role of Col3 in cutaneous wound repair, we examined the healing of excisional wounds in a previously described murine model of Col3 deficiency. Col3 deficiency (Col3+/-) in aged mice resulted in accelerated wound closure with increased wound contraction. In addition, Col3-deficient mice had increased myofibroblast density in the wound granulation tissue as evidenced by an increased expression of the myofibroblast marker, α-smooth muscle actin. In vitro, dermal fibroblasts obtained from Col3-deficient embryos (Col3+/- and -/-) were more efficient at collagen gel contraction and also displayed increased myofibroblast differentiation compared to those harvested from wild-type (Col3+/+) embryos. Finally, wounds from Col3-deficient mice also had significantly more scar tissue area on day 21 post-wounding compared to wild-type mice. The effect of Col3 expression on myofibroblast differentiation and scar formation in this model suggests a previously undefined role for this ECM protein in tissue regeneration and repair.

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