Bioactive interleukin-8 is expressed in wounds and enhances wound healing

J Surg Res. 2000 Sep;93(1):41-54. doi: 10.1006/jsre.2000.5892.


Background: Wound healing is a sequential biological process that involves the integration of chemotaxis of neutrophils, mitosis and migration of keratinocytes, and remodeling of the scar, all of which are regulated by specific soluble mediators. To modulate wound healing specific mediators have to be identified and functionally characterized. Therefore we addressed this study on the polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) attractant interleukin-8 (IL-8) and its function in epidermal wound healing.

Materials and methods: Peptide purification, bioassays for PMN chemotaxis, and sequential IL-8 measurements were performed on human wound fluid from burn blisters and skin graft donor sites. Histology for IL-8 immunoreactivity was included. In vitro human keratinocytes were assayed for proliferation, migration, and integrin expression after IL-8 treatment. Wounding experiments with topical IL-8 were performed in a chimeric mouse model.

Results: IL-8 was found to be the major bioactive chemoattractant for PMNs in human blister and skin graft donor site wound fluids (mean levels ranging from 173 ng/ml Postoperative Day (POD) 1 to 2130 ng/ml (POD 5)). Released intracellular epidermal IL-8 immunoreactivity at the wound edge was considered as an immediate source of IL-8 while NH(2)-terminal analysis revealed the 77-amino-acid residue form as a second source of IL-8 possibly PMN derived. In vitro experiments on the effect of recombinant human (rh) IL-8 on keratinocyte proliferation revealed a rise in cell number (4.8-fold, ED(50) = 0.6 ng/ml), which was accompanied by an increase in cells in S phase and overexpression of the integrin subunit alpha6. In vivo topically applied IL-8 (1 microg/ml) on human skin grafts in a chimeric mouse model enhanced reepithelialization in IL-8 treated animals over controls due to elevated numbers of mitotic keratinocytes. Wound contraction was significantly diminished by topical IL-8.

Conclusions: These results indicate the sequential function of endogenous IL-8 in all phases of human wound healing. Topical IL-8 may be useful in impaired wound healing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antigens, CD / analysis
  • Cell Division
  • Humans
  • Integrin alpha6
  • Interleukin-8 / analysis*
  • Interleukin-8 / genetics
  • Interleukin-8 / physiology
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects
  • Keratinocytes / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • S Phase
  • Skin / chemistry
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis
  • Wound Healing*
  • Wounds and Injuries / metabolism*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, CD
  • Integrin alpha6
  • Interleukin-8
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha