Nutritional Aspects of Gastrointestinal Wound Healing

Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2016 Nov 1;5(11):507-515. doi: 10.1089/wound.2015.0671.


Significance: Although the wound healing cascade is similar in many tissues, in the gastrointestinal tract mucosal healing is critical for processes such as inflammatory bowel disease and ulcers and healing of the mucosa, submucosa, and serosal layers is needed for surgical anastomoses and for enterocutaneous fistula. Failure of wound healing can result in complications including infection, prolonged hospitalization, critical illness, organ failure, readmission, new or worsening enterocutaneous fistula, and even death. Recent Advances: Recent advances are relevant for the role of specific micronutrients, such as vitamin D, trace elements, and the interplay between molecules with pro- and antioxidant properties. Our understanding of the role of other small molecules, genes, proteins, and macronutrients is also rapidly changing. Recent work has elucidated relationships between oxidative stress, nutritional supplementation, and glucose metabolism. Thresholds have also been established to define adequate preoperative nutritional status. Critical Issues: Further work is needed to establish standards and definitions for measuring the extent of wound healing, particularly for inflammatory bowel disease and ulcers. In addition, a mounting body of evidence has determined the need for adequate preoperative nutritional supplementation for elective surgical procedures. Future Directions: A large portion of current work is restricted to model systems in rodents. Therefore, additional clinical and translational research is needed in this area to promote gastrointestinal wound healing in humans, particularly those suffering from critical illness, patients with enterocutaneous fistula, inflammatory bowel disease, and ulcers, and those undergoing surgical procedures.

Keywords: Vitamin D; antioxidants; nutrition; probiotics; surgical wound healing; trace elements.

Publication types

  • Review