Objective: To evaluate histologic changes and gene expression patterns in body and limb wounds in horses in response to bacterial inoculation.
Sample: Wound biopsy specimens from 6 horses collected on days 7, 14, 21, and 27 after excisional wounds (20 wounds/horse) were created over the metacarpal and metatarsal region and lateral thoracic region (body) and then inoculated or not inoculated on day 4 with Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Procedures: Specimens were histologically scored for the amount of inflammation, edema, angiogenesis, fibrosis organization, and epithelialization. Quantitative PCR assays were performed to quantify gene expression of 10 inflammatory, proteolytic, fibrotic, and hypoxia-related markers involved in wound healing.
Results: Except for gene expression of interleukin-6 on day 27 and tumor necrosis factor-α on day 14, bacterial inoculation had no significant effect on histologic scores and gene expression. Gene expression of interleukin-1β and -6, serum amyloid A, and matrix metalloproteinase-9 was higher in limb wounds versus body wounds by day 27. Gene expression of cellular communication network factor 1 was higher in limb wounds versus body wounds throughout the observation period.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: The lack of clear markers of wound infection in this study reflected well-known difficulties in detecting wound infections in horses. Changes consistent with protracted inflammation were evident in limb wounds, and gene expression patterns of limb wounds shared similarities with those of chronic wounds in humans. Cellular communication network factor warrants further investigation and may be useful in elucidating the mechanisms underlying poor limb wound healing in horses.