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Androgens modulate the inflammatory response during acute wound healing

Gilliver, Stephen C. and Ashworth, Jason J. and Mills, Stuart J. and Hardman, Matthew J. and Ashcroft, Gillian S. (2006) Androgens modulate the inflammatory response during acute wound healing. Journal of cell science, 119 (4). pp. 722-732. ISSN 1477-9137

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Abstract

Impaired wound healing states in the elderly lead to substantial morbidity and mortality, and a cost to the health services of over $9 billion per annum. In addition to intrinsic ageing processes that per se cause delayed healing, studies have suggested marked differences in wound repair between the sexes. We have previously reported that, castration of male mice results in a striking acceleration of local cutaneous wound healing and dampens the associated inflammatory response. In this study, we report that systemic 5-reductase inhibition, which blocks the conversion of testosterone to its more active metabolite 5-dihydrotestosterone, mimics the effects of castration in a rat model of cutaneous wound healing. The mechanisms underlying the observed effects involve a direct, cell-specific upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokine expression by macrophages, but not fibroblasts, in response to androgens. Androgens require the transforming growth factor ß signalling intermediate Smad3 to be present in order to influence repair and local pro-inflammatory cytokine levels. That reducing 5-dihydrotestosterone levels through 5-reductase antagonism markedly accelerates healing suggests a specific target for future therapeutic intervention in impaired wound healing states in elderly males.

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