Epidermal participation in post-burn hypertrophic scar development

T. E. Hakvoort*, V. Altun, R. S. Ramrattan, T. H. Van der Kwast, R. Benner, P. P.M. Van Zuijlen, A. F.P.M. Vloemans, E. P. Prens

*Corresponding author for this work

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The reconstruction of epidermal architecture over time in normotrophic and hypertrophic scars in untransplanted, spontaneously healed partial-thickness burns has scarcely been studied, unlike the regeneration of epidermal grafts used to cover burn wounds and the regeneration of the dermis during hypertrophic scarring. The expression of markers of epidermal proliferation, differentiation and activation in normotrophic and hypertrophic scars in spontaneously healed partial-thickness burns was assessed and compared with the expression of these markers in normal control skin of healthy persons to determine whether hypertrophic scarring is associated with abnormalities in the phenotype of keratinocytes. Punch biopsies were taken both of partial-thickness burns after re-epithelialisation and of matched unburned skin. At 4 and 7 months post-burn, biopsies were taken of normotrophic and hypertrophic scars that had developed in these wounds. The biopsies were analysed using immunostaining for markers of keratinocyte proliferation, differentiation and activation (keratins 5, 10, 16 and 17, filaggrin, transglutaminase and CD36). We observed a higher expression of markers for proliferation, differentiation and activation in the epidermis of scars at 1 month post-burn than in normal control skin of healthy persons. There was a striking difference between normotrophic and hypertrophic scars at 4 months post-burn. Keratinocytes in hypertrophic scars displayed a higher level of proliferation, differentiation and activation than did normotrophic scars. At 7 months post-burn all keratinocyte proliferation and differentiation markers showed normal expression, but the activation marker CD36 remained upregulated in both normotrophic and hypertrophic scars. Surprisingly, in matched unburned skin of burn patients, a state of hyperactivation was observed at 1 month. Our results suggest that keratinocytes may be involved in the pathogenesis of hypertrophic scarring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-226
Number of pages6
JournalVirchows Archiv
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 1999

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