Wound-Healing Studies in Cornea and Skin: Parallels, Differences and Opportunities

Bukowiecki A, Hos D, Cursiefen C, Eming SA

Int J Mol Sci 2017 Jun;18(6)

PMID: 28604651


The cornea and the skin are both organs that provide the outer barrier of the body. Both tissues have developed intrinsic mechanisms that protect the organism from a wide range of external threats, but at the same time also enable rapid restoration of tissue integrity and organ-specific function. The easy accessibility makes the skin an attractive model system to study tissue damage and repair. Findings from skin research have contributed to unravelling novel fundamental principles in regenerative biology and the repair of other epithelial-mesenchymal tissues, such as the cornea. Following barrier disruption, the influx of inflammatory cells, myofibroblast differentiation, extracellular matrix synthesis and scar formation present parallel repair mechanisms in cornea and skin wound healing. Yet, capillary sprouting, while pivotal in proper skin wound healing, is a process that is rather associated with pathological repair of the cornea. Understanding the parallels and differences of the cellular and molecular networks that coordinate the wound healing response in skin and cornea are likely of mutual importance for both organs with regard to the development of regenerative therapies and understanding of the disease pathologies that affect epithelial-mesenchymal interactions. Here, we review the principal events in corneal wound healing and the mechanisms to restore corneal transparency and barrier function. We also refer to skin repair mechanisms and their potential implications for regenerative processes in the cornea.

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