The early-gestation fetus heals incisional skin wounds rapidly and scarlessly. The morphology with which the fetus heals excisional skin wounds remains unclear. To characterize excisional fetal wound repair, and to determine whether there is a developmentally regulated wound-size threshold beyond which fetal skin heals with scar, the authors created excisional wounds in fetal lambs of varying gestational age. Time-mated pregnant ewes carrying 22 fetuses at 60 to 90 days' gestation (term, 145 days) underwent laparotomy and hysterotomy. An incisional wound and four circular, punch biopsy wounds of 2, 4, 6, and 10 mm in diameter were placed on the back of each fetal lamb and marked with India ink. The wounds were harvested at 14 days' postwounding and examined grossly and microscopically after serial sectioning and histological staining. Morphological features of all wounds were graded. By 14 days' postwounding all fetal wounds had healed completely. for lambs at each gestational age, increasing wound size was strongly associated with an increase in the frequency of scar. Also, as gestational age increased from 60 to 90 days' gestation the frequency of scarless repair decreased. By understanding the cellular and molecular processes that mediate scar formation with increasing wound size and advancing gestational age, the authors hope to gain further insight into the mechanisms of scarless fetal wound repair.
View details for Web of Science ID A1997WP14100008
View details for PubMedID 9094005