Diabetes is characterized by several poorly understood phenomena including dysfunctional wound healing and impaired vasculogenesis. p53, a master cell cycle regulator, is upregulated in diabetic wounds and has recently been shown to play a regulatory roles in vasculogenic pathways. We have previously described a novel method to topically silence target genes in a wound bed with small interfering (si)RNA. We hypothesized that silencing p53 results in improved diabetic wound healing and augmentation of vasculogenic mediators. Paired 4-mm stented wounds were created on diabetic db/db mice. Topically applied p53 siRNA, evenly distributed in an agarose matrix, was applied to wounds at postwound day 1 and 7 (matrix alone and nonsense siRNA served as controls). Animals were sacrificed at postwound days 10 and 24. Wound time to closure was photometrically assessed, and wounds were harvested for histology, immunohistochemistry, and immunofluorescence. Vasculogenic cytokine expression was evaluated via Western blot, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The ANOVA/t-test was used to determine significance (p≤ 0.05). Local p53 silencing resulted in faster wound healing with wound closure at 18±1.3 d in the treated group vs. 28±1.0 d in controls. The treated group demonstrated improved wound architecture at each time point while demonstrating near-complete local p53 knockdown. Moreover, treated wounds showed a 1.92-fold increase in CD31 endothelial cell staining over controls. Western blot analysis confirmed near-complete p53 knockdown in treated wounds. At day 10, VEGF secretion (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) was significantly increased in treated wounds (109.3±13.9 pg/mL) vs. controls (33.0±3.8 pg/mL) while reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction demonstrated a 1.86-fold increase in SDF-1 expression in treated wounds vs. controls. This profile was reversed after the treated wounds healed and before closure of controls (day 24). Augmented vasculogenic cytokine profile and endothelial cell markers are associated with improved diabetic wound healing in topical gene therapy with p53 siRNA.
© 2010 by the Wound Healing Society.