Nerve cells play a crucial role in healing wounds – Innovita Research

Wound healing process is something we all are familiar with. The wound fills up with blood, which coagulates and seals it. Then new cells have to rebuild what was lost. However, there are many various cells in our skin and their relation in wound healing process is only partially understood. Now scientists from the University of Zurich say that nerve cells in the skin help wounds to heal too.

Human body quickly heals wounds and glial cells are the one playing the central role in this process. Image credit: Pavel Ševela via Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

Humans cannot regrow limbs or even significant patches of skin, but our wounds heal spectacularly well. One of the reasons why is, of course, our clean lifestyle, which is really not something you would find in nature. But it is also because our cells immediately start a process, which leads to a safe and painless wound healing process. Fast too. Having in mind for how long wounds were a significant part of life, it is surprising that we still do no fully understand how the healing process works. Now scientists say that peripheral nerve cells play a central role.

For the optimum healing process to occur the damaged tissue must be innervated – there must be nerves in the site. This is a common knowledge in hospitals, but no one really understood why that is. Scientists used animal models and found that fine nerve bundles change drastically when they are damaged through the injury. These nerve bundles, known as glial cells, essentially are reprogrammed to become repair cells and to disseminate into the wound bed. During this glial cells lose contact to the nerve bundles. During the healing process these cells supply a variety of factors, helping the wound to heal, but also help it to close by supporting the reconstitution of the dermis.

These findings are very important. Some people face very slowly healing wounds. For example, older people and diabetes patients are commonly suffering from this. Understanding how human body heals wounds could lead to better treatments. Lukas Sommer, leader of the research group, said: “Now we want to work together with clinicians from the University Hospital Zurich to better characterize the wound healing factors that are distributed by nerve cells”.

Chronic wounds is a huge issue to so many people. Hopefully, researches like that will at least become a move to the right direction. However, there is a lot of work left till these findings can be translated into some treatment, applicable in a hospital setting.


Source: University of Zurich