The fibrosis and scar formation that characterize adult wound healing are also the cause of clinical problems; scar contracture, hypertrophic scar, and pulmonary and hepatic fibrosis are only a few examples. Studies of fetal wound healing can provide an insight into the initiation and regulation of a scarless repair process akin to regeneration. Studies of fetal repair have already suggested mechanisms that might favorably alter adult healing. Topical application of hyaluronic acid to wounds in adult diabetic rats leads to enhanced epithelial migration. It has been recognized that the addition of TGF-β to fetal wounds causes an adultlike healing response with fibrosis and inflammation. A subsequent study using neutralizing antibody to TGF-β in adult wounds showed enhanced healing with a more normal dermal architecture with fewer macrophages, fewer blood vessels, and less collagen. As our understanding of regenerative tissue repair increases, the opportunities to modulate adult fibrotic conditions should expand.
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