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Cell Death Dis. 2020 Mar 23;11(3):201. doi: 10.1038/s41419-020-2397-0.

Plasminogen is a master regulator and a potential drug candidate for the healing of radiation wounds.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Umeå University, 901-87, Umeå, Sweden.
Omnio AB, Tvistevägen 48, 907-36, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Medical Biosciences, Pathology, Umeå University, 901-87, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Radiation Sciences, Umeå University, 901-87, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Umeå University, 901-87, Umeå, Sweden.


Around 95% of cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy experience cutaneous side effects, and some develop radiation wounds or fibrosis. Currently, there is no effective treatment for these indications. We show here that plasminogen administration enhanced the healing of radiation wounds via pleiotropic effects on gene expression. Using RNA sequencing, we found that plasminogen downregulated the expression of genes in the TLR, TNF, WNT, MAPK, and TGF-β signaling pathways, and enhanced the anti-inflammatory effect of arachidonic acid, leading to significantly decreased inflammation and improved remodeling of granulation tissue compared with placebo treatment. In addition, plasminogen induced metabolic changes, including decreased glycolysis. Importantly, many of the factors downregulated by plasminogen are pro-fibrotic. Therefore, in radiation wounds with excessive inflammation, plasminogen is able to enhance and redirect the healing process, such that it more closely resembles physiological healing with significantly reduced risk for developing fibrosis. This makes plasminogen an attractive drug candidate for the treatment of radiation wounds in cancer patients.

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