Cutaneous wound healing: recruiting developmental pathways for regeneration

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2013 Jun;70(12):2059-81. doi: 10.1007/s00018-012-1152-9. Epub 2012 Oct 4.


Following a skin injury, the damaged tissue is repaired through the coordinated biological actions that constitute the cutaneous healing response. In mammals, repaired skin is not identical to intact uninjured skin, however, and this disparity may be caused by differences in the mechanisms that regulate postnatal cutaneous wound repair compared to embryonic skin development. Improving our understanding of the molecular pathways that are involved in these processes is essential to generate new therapies for wound healing complications. Here we focus on the roles of several key developmental signaling pathways (Wnt/β-catenin, TGF-β, Hedgehog, Notch) in mammalian cutaneous wound repair, and compare this to their function in skin development. We discuss the varying responses to cutaneous injury across the taxa, ranging from complete regeneration to scar tissue formation. Finally, we outline how research into the role of developmental pathways during skin repair has contributed to current wound therapies, and holds potential for the development of more effective treatments.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Hedgehog Proteins / metabolism
  • Hemostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Skin / growth & development*
  • Skin / injuries*
  • Species Specificity
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism
  • Wound Healing / physiology*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin