Multiple actions of Lucilia sericata larvae in hard-to-heal wounds: larval secretions contain molecules that accelerate wound healing, reduce chronic inflammation and inhibit bacterial infection

Bioessays. 2013 Dec;35(12):1083-92. doi: 10.1002/bies.201300071. Epub 2013 Oct 7.


In Europe ≈15,000 patients receive larval therapy for wound treatment annually. Over the past few years, clinical studies have demonstrated the success of larvae of Lucilia sericata as debridement agents. This is based on a combination of physical and biochemical actions. Laboratory investigations have advanced our understanding of the biochemical mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of larval secretions, including removal of dead tissue, reduction of the bacterial burden, and promotion of tissue regeneration. The present article summarizes our current understanding of the microbiological, immunological, and wound healing actions of larval therapy, and the molecules involved in these beneficial effects. Future studies will focus on the isolation, identification, and (pre)clinical testing of the effective molecules of L. sericata larvae. These molecules may be candidates for the development of new agents for the treatment of several infectious and inflammatory diseases, including chronic wounds.

Keywords: Lucilia sericata; antimicrobial; biofilm; complement; larval therapy; maggots; wound.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control*
  • Diptera / metabolism*
  • Diptera / microbiology
  • Diptera / physiology*
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • Larva / metabolism*
  • Larva / microbiology
  • Larva / physiology*
  • Wound Healing / physiology*