Wound repair: toward understanding and integration of single-cell and multicellular wound responses

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2011;27:237-63. doi: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-092910-154251. Epub 2011 Jun 20.


The importance of wound healing to medicine and biology has long been evident, and consequently, wound healing has been the subject of intense investigation for many years. However, several relatively recent developments have added new impetus to wound repair research: the increasing application of model systems; the growing recognition that single cells have a robust, complex, and medically relevant wound healing response; and the emerging recognition that different modes of wound repair bear an uncanny resemblance to other basic biological processes such as morphogenesis and cytokinesis. In this review, each of these developments is described, and their significance for wound healing research is considered. In addition, overlapping mechanisms of single-cell and multicellular wound healing are highlighted, and it is argued that they are more similar than is often recognized. Based on this and other information, a simple model to explain the evolutionary relationships of cytokinesis, single-cell wound repair, multicellular wound repair, and developmental morphogenesis is proposed. Finally, a series of important, but as yet unanswered, questions is posed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Embryo, Mammalian / physiology
  • Endocytosis / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Hemostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Membrane Fusion / physiology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Wound Healing / physiology*