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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fibromodulin Deficiency Alters Transforming Growth Factor-β Expression during Mouse Wound Healing

  • Author(s): Lee, Kevin Seokjong
  • Advisor(s): Mallya, Sanjay M
  • Zhang, Xinli
  • et al.

Background: Fibromodulin (FMOD) is a small leucine-rich proteoglycan required for scarless fetal cutaneous wound repair. Interestingly, increased FMOD levels have been correlated with decreased transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 expression in multiple fetal and adult rodent models. Our previous studies demonstrated that FMOD deficiency in adult animals results in delayed wound closure and increased scar size accompanied by loose package collagen fiber networks with increased fibril diameter. In addition, we found that FMOD modulates in vitro expression and activities of TGF-β ligands in an isoform-specific manner. In this study, we investigated the temporospatial distribution of TGF-β ligands and receptors in both adult FMOD-null and wild-type (WT) mouse wounds to further elucidate how FMOD coordinates TGF-β bioactivity to promote proper cutaneous wound healing.

Methods: Expression profiles of TGF-β ligands and receptors in FMOD-null and WT mice were compared by immunohistochemical staining and quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) using a full-thickness, primary intention wound closure model.

Results: During the inflammatory stage, elevated inflammatory infiltration accompanied by increased type I TGF-β receptor levels in individual inflammatory cells was observed in FMOD-null wounds. This increased inflammation was correlated with accelerated epithelial migration during the proliferative stage. On the other hand, significantly more robust expression of TGF-β3 and TGF-β receptors in FMOD-null wounds during the proliferative stage was associated with delayed dermal cell migration and proliferation, which led to postponed granulation tissue formation and wound closure and increased scar size. Compared with WT controls, expression of TGF-β ligands and receptors by FMOD-null dermal cells was markedly reduced during the remodeling stage, which may have contributed to the declined collagen synthesis capability and unordinary collagen architecture.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that a single missing gene, FMOD, leads to conspicuous alternations in TGF-β ligand and receptor expression at all stages of wound repair in various cell types. Therefore, FMOD critically coordinates temporospatial distribution of TGF-β ligands and receptors in vivo, suggesting that FMOD modulates TGF-β bioactivity in a complex way beyond simple physical binding to promote proper wound healing.

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