Systemic ingestion of vanadate, a nonspecific inhibitor of tyrosine phosphatases, doubles wound breaking strength, enhances the packing of collagen fibers, and prevents the appearance of myofibroblasts in granulation tissue. Will the local application of vanadate mimic the systemic effects? Pairs of polyvinyl alcohol sponges, each with a central reservoir and attached injection port, were subcutaneously implanted in rats. Daily, one implant received 0.2 ml of saline and the other received 0.2 ml of 0.03 mM vanadate in saline. On day 7, harvested sponges had equivalent wet weights. The vanadate-treated sponges had fibroblasts separated by connective tissue, with a more intense birefringence of the collagen fibers. Transmission electron microscopy showed collagen more uniformly packed in the vanadate treated sponges where collagen fibers were equally spaced and had equal diameters. By immunohistology, myofibroblasts, defined by the expression of α-smooth muscle actin within stress fibers, were absent in vanadate-treated granulation tissue. The expression of α-smooth muscle actin was restricted to smooth muscle cells of blood vessels. Controls had densely packed α-smooth muscle actin staining myofibroblasts, weak birefringence, and randomly spaced collagen fibers with irregular diameters. We conclude that the local application of vanadate prevents the appearance of myofibroblasts and optimizes the organization of collagen fibers in developing granulation tissue.
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