Significance: Human skin wounds carry an immense epidemiologic and financial burden, and their impact will continue to grow with an aging population and rising incidence of comorbid conditions known to affect wound healing. To comprehensively address this growing clinical issue, physicians should also be aware of how conditions of the human social environment may affect wound healing. Here we provide a review of the emerging field of social genomics and its potential impact on the wound healing. Recent Advances: Multiple studies using human and animal models have correlated social influences and their contributing effects to acute and chronic stress with delays in wound healing. Furthermore, observations between nongenetic factors such as nutrition, socioeconomic, and educational status have also shown to have a direct or indirect impact on clinical outcomes of wound healing. Critical Issues: Nutrition, financial burden, socioeconomic and education status, and acute and chronic stress are variables that have either direct (epigenetic) or indirect impact on wound healing and patients' quality of life. Wound care is costly and remains a challenge placing economic burden on patients. Furthermore, poor clinical outcomes and complications including loss of mobility and disability may lead to job loss, further contributing to socioeconomic related stress. Thus, the economic burden and inadequate wound healing are intertwined, making each other worse. Future Directions: Although some evidence regarding the specific changes in genetic pathways imparted by conditions of the social environment exists, further studies are warranted to identify potential mechanisms, interventions, and prevention approaches.
Keywords: chronic wounds; social genomics; wound healing.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors have no conflicts, financial or otherwise, to disclose. M.T.C. conceived the idea for this review; L.B., R.F. A.E., and M.T.C. reviewed the literature and wrote the article. No ghostwriters were used in writing this article.
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