Scarless fetal skin wound healing update

Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today. 2012 Sep;96(3):237-47. doi: 10.1002/bdrc.21018.


Scar formation, a physiologic process in adult wound healing, can have devastating effects for patients; a multitude of pathologic outcomes, affecting all organ systems, stems from an amplification of this process. In contrast to adult wound repair, the early-gestation fetal skin wound heals without scar formation, a phenomenon that appears to be intrinsic to fetal skin. An intensive research effort has focused on unraveling the mechanisms that underlie scarless fetal wound healing in an attempt to improve the quality of healing in both children and adults. Unique properties of fetal cells, extracellular matrix, cytokine profile, and gene expression contribute to this scarless repair. Despite the great increase in knowledge gained over the past decades, the precise mechanisms regulating scarless fetal healing remain unknown. Herein, we describe the current proposed mechanisms underlying fetal scarless wound healing in an effort to recapitulate the fetal phenotype in the postnatal environment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cicatrix / physiopathology*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology*
  • Fetus / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Macrophages / physiology
  • Mast Cells / physiology
  • Neutrophils / physiology
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Wound Healing / genetics
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • Cytokines