Studies in fetal wound healing, VI. Second and early third trimester fetal wounds demonstrate rapid collagen deposition without scar formation

J Pediatr Surg. 1990 Jan;25(1):63-8; discussion 68-9. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3468(05)80165-4.


The mechanisms that underlie the lack of scarring in fetal wounds are unknown, but probably relate to the control of collagen fibrillogenesis. The role of collagen in the fetal wound matrix is controversial, and several wound implant models have been used to evaluate collagen deposition in fetal wounds. Unfortunately, these models create an artificial wound environment and may thereby affect the results. In order to study fetal wound collagen deposition in linear wounds without artificially altering the wound environment, we applied a highly sensitive immunohistochemical technique that uses antibodies to collagen types I, III, IV, and VI. We found that collagen was deposited in fetal wounds much more rapidly than in adult wounds. Wound collagen deposition occurred in a normal dermal and mesenchymal pattern in second and early third trimester fetal lambs. These findings are consistent with the observation that the fetus heals rapidly and without scar formation. In contrast, wounds in late gestation fetal lambs showed some evidence of scar formation. Further studies may suggest ways to alter the adult wound so that it heals in a fetal manner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cicatrix / metabolism*
  • Collagen / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Injuries*
  • Sheep
  • Wound Healing*


  • Collagen