The interaction between neuropeptides and cytokines and its role in cutaneous wound healing is becoming evident. The goal of the present study is to investigate the impact of diabetes on peripheral cytokine and neuropeptide expression and its role in diabetic wound healing. To achieve this goal, the effect of diabetes on wound healing, along with the role of inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-8 (IL-8) secreted in the wound microenvironment, and neuropeptides such as substance P (SP) and neuropeptide Y (NPY), secreted from peripheral nerves is monitored in non-diabetic and diabetic rabbits. Rabbits in the diabetic group received alloxan monohydrate (100mg/kg i.v.). Ten days after diabetic induction, four full thickness circular wounds were created in both ears using a 6mm punch biopsy. Wound healing was monitored over 10 d and gene expression of cytokines and neuropeptides was assessed in the wounds. Compared with the non-diabetic rabbits, wounds of diabetic rabbits heal significantly slower. Diabetic rabbits show significantly increased baseline gene expression of IL-6 and IL-8, their receptors, CXCR1, CXCR2, GP-130, and a decrease of prepro tachykinin-A (PP-TA), the precursor of SP, whereas the expression of prepro-NPY (PP-NPY), the precursor of NPY is not different. Similarly, baseline protein expression of CXCR1 is higher in diabetic rabbit skin. Post-injury, the increase over baseline gene expression of IL-6, IL-8, CXCR1, CXCR2, and GP-130 is significantly less in diabetic wounds compared with non-diabetic wounds. Although there is no difference in PP-TA gene expression between non-diabetic and diabetic rabbits post-injury, the gene expression of PP-NPY is reduced in diabetic rabbits. In conclusion, diabetes causes dysregulation in the neuropeptide expression in the skin along with a suppressed focused inflammatory response to injury. This suggests that the chronic inflammation in the skin of diabetic rabbits inhibits the acute inflammation much needed for wound healing.
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