Dermal Fibroblasts Promote Alternative Macrophage Activation Improving Impaired Wound Healing

J Invest Dermatol. 2017 Apr;137(4):941-950. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2016.11.035. Epub 2016 Dec 23.


Tight control of inflammation is required for tissue repair and wound healing and depends on alternative polarization of macrophages as checkpoint for inflammatory resolution. Its perturbations lead to impaired regeneration. Administration of cells/cell factors capable of reversing inflammation and rescuing alternative polarization could be promising for treating inflammatory diseases. We show that human dermal fibroblasts (dFb) are ideal candidates for such a task by demonstrating a new function of these cells, which is modulating macrophage polarization. Coculture of dFb with human monocytes in vitro or injection of dFb into mice with thioglycollate-induced peritonitis favors alternative macrophage activation and reduces inflammation by releasing tumor necrosis factor-inducible gene 6 protein and Cox-2 products. Silencing these factors in dFb abolishes the reported effects, demonstrating their importance for immunomodulation. Importantly, in a model of delayed wound healing due to prolonged inflammation (db/db mice), administration of dFb improves defective tissue repair with augmentation of alternative macrophage polarization and inflammation resolution. Human dFb are low immunogenic cells, easy to obtain, and can be expanded extensively in vitro conserving their immunomodulatory capacity; this, together with our findings, suggests that dFb might represent an alternative for cell-based therapies of conditions characterized by excessive inflammation and delayed tissue repair.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fibroblasts / transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Macrophage Activation / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Monocytes / cytology
  • Random Allocation
  • Wound Healing / physiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / pathology
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*