Objective: Fetuses early in gestation heal skin wounds without forming scars. The biological mechanisms behind this process are largely unknown. Fibroblasts, however, are cells known to be intimately involved in wound healing and scar formation. We examined fibroblasts in different stages of development to characterize differences in gene expression that may result in the switch from regenerative wound repair to repair with scarring. Approach: Fibroblasts were isolated and cultured from the back skin of BALB/c wild-type mouse fetuses at embryonic day (E)14 and E18 (n?=?10). The fibroblast total RNA was extracted, and microarray analysis was conducted using chips containing 42,000 genes. Significance analysis of microarrays was performed to identify genes with greater than twofold expression difference and a false discovery rate of less than two. Identified genes subsequently underwent enrichment analysis to detect differentially expressed pathways. Results: Two hundred seventy-five genes were differentially expressed between E14 and E18 in fetal fibroblasts. Thirty genes were significantly downregulated and 245 genes were significantly upregulated at E18 compared with E14. Ingenuity pathway analysis identified the top 20 signaling pathways differentially activated in fetal fibroblasts between the E18 and E14 time points. Innovation: To our knowledge, this work represents the first instance where differentially expressed genes and signaling pathways between fetal fibroblasts at E14 and E18 have been studied. Conclusion: The genes and pathways identified here potentially underlie the mechanism behind the transition from fetal wound healing via regeneration to wound healing by repair, and may prove to be key targets for future therapeutics.
View details for PubMedID 29344429