The microbiome in wound repair and tissue fibrosis

J Pathol. 2013 Jan;229(2):323-31. doi: 10.1002/path.4118. Epub 2012 Nov 29.


Bacterial colonization occurs in all wounds, chronic or acute, and the break in epithelium integrity that defines a wound impairs the forces that shape and constrain the microbiome at that site. This review highlights the interactions between bacterial communities in the wound and the ultimate resolution of the wound or development of fibrotic lesions. Chronic wounds support complex microbial communities comprising a wide variety of bacterial phyla, genera, and species, including some fastidious anaerobic bacteria not identified using culture-based methods. Thus, the complexity of bacterial communities in wounds has historically been underestimated. There are a number of intriguing possibilities to explain these results that may also provide novel insights into changes and adaptation of bacterial metabolic networks in inflamed and wounded mucosa, including the critical role of biofilm formation. It is well accepted that the heightened state of activation of host cells in a wound that is driven by the microbiota can certainly lead to detrimental effects on wound regeneration, but the microbiota of the wound may also have beneficial effects on wound healing. Studies in experimental systems have clearly demonstrated a beneficial effect for members of the gut microbiota on regulation of systemic inflammation, which could also impact wound healing at sites outside the gastrointestinal tract. The utilization of culture-independent microbiology to characterize the microbiome of wounds and surrounding mucosa has raised many intriguing questions regarding previously held notions about the cause and effect relationships between bacterial colonization and wound repair and mechanisms involved in this symbiotic relationship.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Biofilms
  • Fibrosis
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Metagenome*
  • Symbiosis
  • Wound Healing*