Fetal cutaneous wounds that occur in early gestation heal without scar formation. Although much work has been done to characterize the role of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) isoforms in the adult wound repair process, their function in fetal scarless wound repair is not well understood. The authors hypothesized that the pattern of expression for TGF-beta isoforms and their receptors may influence the phenotypic transition from scarless to scar-forming repair observed during fetal gestation. Using time-dated fetal Sprague-Dawley rat fibroblasts and unwounded skin at gestational ages 14, 16, 18, and 21 days postcoitum of the scarless (< or =16 days) and scar-forming (>16 days) periods of gestation (term = 21.5 days), the authors analyzed the endogenous messenger RNA (mRNA) levels of TGF-beta 1 and TGF-beta 3 and their signaling receptors TGF-beta-RI and TGF-beta-RII. Northern blot analyses in both fibroblasts and unwounded skin revealed that levels of TGF-beta 1 were not differentially expressed, whereas more TGF-beta 3 mRNA transcript was found in early than in late gestation. Fibroblast expression of TGF-beta-RI showed no substantial differences, whereas expression of TGF-beta-RII increased during gestation. In contrast, expression of both TGF-beta-RI and TGF-beta-RII in unwounded skin showed decreasing levels as a function of gestational age. The differential levels of TGF-beta 1 and TGF-beta 3 suggest that the ratio of these cytokines may provide a predominantly antiscarring or profibrotic signal upon wounding during the scar-free or scar-forming periods of gestation, respectively. Furthermore, lower amounts of the ligand-binding TGF-beta-RII seen in early gestation fibroblasts suggest a decreased ability to perceive ligand during the period of scarless repair.
View details for Web of Science ID 000169013300023
View details for PubMedID 11391201