Wound healing in nude mice: a study on the regulatory role of lymphocytes in fibroplasia

Surgery. 1989 Jun;105(6):764-9.


In order to understand the role of T cells in postinjury fibroplasia, we have studied wound healing in congenitally athymic nude mice that lack a normally developed T cell system. Healing of incisional wounds, as assessed by wound breaking strength, was significantly stronger in nude mice compared with normal thymus-bearing animals. This was accompanied by a marked increase in the amount of reparative collagen synthesized at the wound site, as assessed by the hydroxyproline content of subcutaneously implanted sponges. Because nude mice have some extrathymic T cell maturation, we used an anti-Thy-1.2 (30H12) monoclonal antibody to selectively deplete T cells in vivo. Although such treatments impaired wound healing in normal mice, they had no effect on any wound healing parameter in nude mice. In a separate experiment, T cell reconstitution of nude mice, sufficient to significantly enhance in vivo delayed hypersensitivity responses, led to a decrease in both wound breaking strength and hydroxyproline deposition in subcutaneously implanted polyvinyl sponges. The data suggest that T cells play a dual role in wound healing: an early stimulatory role on macrophages, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts, and a late counterregulatory role, which may be responsible for the orderly completion of wound repair.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Hydroxyproline / analysis
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / immunology
  • Macrophages / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Skin / physiopathology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Tensile Strength
  • Thymus Gland / immunology
  • Time Factors
  • Wound Healing*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Hydroxyproline