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Highly Accessed Open Badges Review

Mesenchymal stem cell therapy for attenuation of scar formation during wound healing

Wesley M Jackson12, Leon J Nesti13 and Rocky S Tuan4*

Author Affiliations

1 Clinical and Experimental Orthopaedics Laboratory, Department of Surgery, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA

2 The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Bethesda, MD 20817, USA

3 Orthopaedic Research Group, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

4 Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 450 Technology Drive, Room 221, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, USA

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Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2012, 3:20  doi:10.1186/scrt111

Published: 31 May 2012


Scars are a consequence of cutaneous wound healing that can be both unsightly and detrimental to the function of the tissue. Scar tissue is generated by excessive deposition of extracellular matrix tissue by wound healing fibroblasts and myofibroblasts, and although it is inferior to the uninjured skin, it is able to restore integrity to the boundary between the body and its environment. Scarring is not a necessary process to repair the dermal tissues. Rather, scar tissue forms due to specific mechanisms that occur during the adult wound healing process and are modulated primarily by the inflammatory response at the site of injury. Adult tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells, which participate in normal wound healing, are trophic mediators of tissue repair. These cells participate in attenuating inflammation in the wound and reprogramming the resident immune and wound healing cells to favor tissue regeneration and inhibit fibrotic tissue formation. As a result, these cells have been considered and tested as a likely candidate for a cellular therapy to promote scar-less wound healing. This review identifies specific mechanisms by which mesenchymal stem cells can limit tissue fibrosis and summarizes recent in vivo studies where these cells have been used successfully to limit scar formation.