Different properties of skin of different body sites: The root of keloid formation?

Liselotte Butzelaar, Frank B Niessen, Wendy Talhout, Dennis P M Schooneman, Magda M Ulrich, Robert H J Beelen, Aebele B Mink van der Molen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The purpose of this study was to examine extracellular matrix composition, vascularization, and immune cell population of skin sites prone to keloid formation. Keloids remain a complex problem, posing esthetical as well as functional difficulties for those affected. These scars tend to develop at anatomic sites of preference. Mechanical properties of skin vary with anatomic location and depend largely on extracellular matrix composition. These differences in extracellular matrix composition, but also vascularization and resident immune cell populations might play a role in the mechanism of keloid formation. To examine this hypothesis, skin samples of several anatomic locations were taken from 24 human donors within zero to 36 hours after they had deceased. Collagen content and cross-links were determined through high-performance liquid chromatography. The expression of several genes, involved in extracellular matrix production and degradation, was measured by means of real-time PCR. (Immuno)histochemistry was performed to detect fibroblasts, collagen, elastin, blood vessels, Langerhans cells, and macrophages. Properties of skin of keloid predilections sites were compared to properties of skin from other locations (nonpredilection sites [NPS]). The results indicated that there are site specific variations in extracellular matrix properties (collagen and cross-links) as well as macrophage numbers. Moreover, predilection sites (PS) for keloid formation contain larger amounts of collagen compared to NPS, but decreased numbers of macrophages, in particular classically activated CD40 positive macrophages. In conclusion, the altered (histological, protein, and genetic) properties of skin of keloid PS may cause a predisposition for and contribute to keloid formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)758-766
Number of pages9
JournalWound Repair and Regeneration
Issue number5
Early online date28 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2017

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