Mast cells contribute to scar formation during fetal wound healing

J Invest Dermatol. 2012 Feb;132(2):458-65. doi: 10.1038/jid.2011.324. Epub 2011 Oct 13.


Scar formation is a potentially detrimental process of tissue restoration in adults, affecting organ form and function. During fetal development, cutaneous wounds heal without inflammation or scarring at early stages of development; however, they begin to heal with significant inflammation and scarring as the skin becomes more mature. One possible cell type that could regulate the change from scarless to fibrotic healing is the mast cell. We show here that dermal mast cells in scarless wounds generated at embryonic day 15 (E15) are fewer in number, less mature, and do not degranulate in response to wounding as effectively as mast cells of fibrotic wounds made at embryonic day 18 (E18). Differences were also observed between cultured mast cells from E15 and E18 skin, with regard to degranulation and preformed cytokine levels. Injection of mast cell lysates into E15 wounds disrupted scarless healing, suggesting that mast cells interfere with scarless repair. Finally, wounds produced at E18, which normally heal with a scar, healed with significantly smaller scars in mast cell-deficient Kit(W/W-v) mice compared with Kit(+/+) littermates. Together, these data suggest that mast cells enhance scar formation, and that these cells may mediate the transition from scarless to fibrotic healing during fetal development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cicatrix / etiology*
  • Female
  • Fetus / physiology*
  • Histamine Release
  • Male
  • Mast Cells / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Phenotype
  • Wound Healing*