Decreasing levels of “reactive oxygen species” can break cycle of unhealing wounds.
Chronic wounds affect an estimated 6.5 million Americans at an annual cost of about $25 billion. Further, foot blisters and other diabetic ulcers or sores account for the vast majority of foot and leg amputations in the United States today.
Why does treating chronic wounds cost so much? What complicates chronic wound infections, making healing difficult?
Manuela Martins-Green, a professor of cell biology at the University of California, Riverside, reports that two biological activities are out of control in chronic wound infections. These are reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are chemically reactive molecules formed by the partial reduction of oxygen, and biofilms that are formed by selective invading bacteria.
ROS is the natural byproduct of the normal oxygen metabolism and plays a role in cell signaling and homeostasis. However, excessive ROS can induce chronic inflammation, a key characteristic of wounds that do not heal. The biofilms are bacterial defense mechanisms. Together they create a toxic environment that can resist efforts to heal and close a chronic wound.
“By decreasing ROS levels within a chronic wound in a diabetic mouse model, my lab was able to normalize conditions and heal the wound,” Martins-Green said. “Indeed, we saw significant improvement in healing the wound.”
She announced her findings today (Dec. 17) in New Orleans at the 53rd annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology.