Effects of topical elk velvet antler on cutaneous wound healing in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats

J Altern Complement Med. 2004 Oct;10(5):835-40. doi: 10.1089/acm.2004.10.835.


Objective: Wound repair is a finely orchestrated process involving cellular, molecular, physiologic, and biochemical interactions that restore the integrity of damaged tissue. Cyclic replacement of deer antlers requires rapid regenerative growth, in many ways analogous to that encountered during tissue repair. Molecular mechanisms regulating these processes are not fully understood, but it is increasingly apparent that growth factors are important mediators. Previous studies have shown that elk velvet antler (EVA) contains various growth factors and that a water-soluble extract stimulates dermal fibroblast growth in vitro.

Design: The efficacy of EVA water-soluble extract on wound healing in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats was EVAluated using a full-thickness cutaneous wound model. Animals were randomly selected to receive topical application of either control or EVA gel. Daily photographs of the wounds served to measure the rate of wound closure. Wound-edge biopsies obtained on postoperative days 2 and 10 allowed histologic evaluation and measurement of transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-beta (1)) concentrations by enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay.

Results: Wounds treated with the EVA topical gel were significantly smaller by postoperative day 6. TGF- beta (1) protein expression was not different in EVA-treated wounds compared to control wounds.

Conclusions: This study indicates that topical treatment with an EVA water-soluble extract accelerates repair of cutaneous wounds in diabetic rats. Further studies are warranted to reveal the mechanisms involved in EVA enhancement of wound closure and to determine if this compound is an economical pharmacologic agent in the treatment of normal and compromised wounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / pathology
  • Growth Substances / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tissue Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*


  • Growth Substances
  • Tissue Extracts
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta