The use of newborn rats and an adenoviral gene delivery vector as a model system for wound-healing research
Gene Transfer Techniques
An attractive experimental method to elucidate the role of growth factors and cytokines in cutaneous wound healing would be to overexpress or "knock out" a molecule using a gene delivery vector and observe the impact on the wound repair process. As a first step toward developing an adenoviral gene delivery procedure to study wound repair, the authors injected beta-galactosidase (beta-gal) adenoviruses either subcutaneously or intradermally into the dorsal skin of 10-day-old postnatal Sprague-Dawley rats. Histological analysis and beta-gal staining were used to determine the expression and localization of the transferred gene. Beta-gal expression was observed as early as day 1 and up to day 7 postintradermal injection and day 9 postsubcutaneous injection, with no obvious inflammatory reaction detected at the injection sites. Furthermore, as expected, greater beta-gal expression was observed in the dermis of intradermally injected rats compared with the dermis of subcutaneously injected rats. Next, the authors sought to determine whether cutaneous wounds would heal before dissipation of the transferred gene. They created incisional and excisional wounds on the backs of similar-age rats. They found that incisional wounds closed by day 5 postwounding, whereas excisional wounds closed by day 14 postwounding. Their study demonstrated that an adenoviral vector delivered a gene efficiently into newborn rat skin and maintained the gene expression for at least as long as it would take for an incisional wound to heal. The combined use of newborn rat wound models and an adenoviral vector may provide a useful in vivo system to define the biological roles of growth factors and cytokines involved in the wound repair process. These discoveries may lead to the development of gene therapy approaches for abnormal wound healing.