Background: Maggot therapy, utilizing the larvae of Lucilia sericata, has been reported to reduce the bacterial load within wounds and also to enhance wound healing. Maggot excretions/secretions (ES) have been shown to have a role in the success of maggot therapy. While the protein content of ES has been investigated, to date little research has focused on the small metabolites present in ES and their potential contribution to the therapy. Study of the molecular composition of the secretions and the potential bioactivities present will allow for a more detailed evaluation of the efficacy of maggot therapy.
Objectives: We studied the amino acid-like compounds present in ES of L. sericata larvae in order to determine the compounds present and their potential role in the wound healing process.
Methods: These included thin-layer chromatography/mass spectrometric analysis of ES to identify amino acid-like components, a turbidometric assay to investigate their potential antibacterial activity and cell proliferation studies to investigate their potential mitogenic ability.
Results: Three prominent compounds were detected and identified as histidine, valinol and 3-guanidinopropionic acid. While these amino acids were not shown to exhibit antibacterial activity, a proliferative effect on the growth of human endothelial cells, but not fibroblasts, was noted.
Conclusions: The demonstrated proliferative effect, selectively on endothelial cells, suggests that the amino acid-like compounds present in maggot ES may have a role in wound healing, by stimulating angiogenesis.