Repair of incision wounds closed by suturing is evaluated by the progressive gain in wound breaking strength. Previously the closure of open wounds in rats ingesting vanadate, an inhibitor of tyrosine phosphate phosphatases, was shown to occur with deposition of more uniformly organized collagen fiber bundles. The hypothesis of this study was that deposition of more uniformly organized collagen fibers would enhance the gain in wound breaking strength of incisional wounds. Six adult rats received vanadate-supplemented saline drinking water for 1 week before placement of two 6-cm, parallel, suture-closed wounds on their backs. Six control rats received identical wounds and were given saline drinking water. The drinking water regimen was continued for 1 week after wounding, and then wound strength was tested with a tensiometer and tissue samples were obtained for histologic evaluation. Wound breaking strength doubled in vanadate-treated rats compared with controls. Bright-field and polarized light microscopy showed that the connective tissue matrix of granulation tissue from control rats was oriented perpendicular to the surface of the skin. In contrast, the connective tissue matrix of granulation tissue from vanadate-treated rats was oriented parallel to the skin surface. The gap in granulation tissue between the edges of the wounds in the vanadate-treated rats was greater than that in controls. Electron microscopy showed that wounds in the vanadate-treated contained uniform collagen fibers that were 20 percent greater in diameter and more evenly spaced than they were in controls. It is proposed that these changes in the organization of collagen fibers within incisional wounds were responsible for the increased wound breaking strength observed in rats ingesting vanadate.
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