From managing sugar to managing healing

Dec 10, 2006

Insulin is a hormone known primarily for regulating sugar levels in the blood, yet researchers at the University of California, Riverside, recently found that applying insulin directly to skin wounds significantly enhanced the healing process.

Skin wounds in rats treated topically with insulin healed faster"surface cells in the epidermis covered the wound more quickly and cells in the dermis, the deeper part of the skin, were faster in rebuilding blood vessels.

In follow-up studies of human skin cells in culture, Manuela Martins-Green and colleagues explored the molecular impact of topical insulin on keratinocytes, the cells that regenerate the epidermis after wounding, and on microvascular endothelial cells, the cells that restore blood flow.

Using various cell and molecular techniques, the researchers discovered that insulin stimulates human keratinocytes in culture to proliferate and migrate. In cultured human microvascular endothelial cells, the insulin stimulates only migration into the wound tissue. The insulin works by switching on cellular signaling proteins called kinases (specifically Src, PI3K, and Akt) and a protein (SREBP) that binds elements in DNA that regulate the production of cholesterol and its relatives.

Chronic or nonhealing wounds take an immense toll on American health and on health care systems. It particularly affects millions of patients with impaired mobility, as well as those with diabetes. Because diabetes is a disease caused by impaired production or utilization of insulin, this work may help explain the connection between diabetes and poor healing.

Says Martins-Green, "This work is important because when we know which cells respond to insulin and which molecules are involved, we may be able to develop ways in which we can make insulin work even better or find ways in which more affordable molecules that mimic these functions of insulin can be developed to treat people who suffer from poor healing."

Source: American Society for Cell Biology

Explore further: Secret of tetanus toxicity offers new way to treat motor neuron disease

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New largest number factored on a quantum device is 56,153

1 hour ago

(Phys.org)—Researchers have set a new record for the quantum factorization of the largest number to date, 56,153, smashing the previous record of 143 that was set in 2012. They have shown that the exact same room-t ...

Recommended for you

Stroke damage mechanism identified

Nov 27, 2014

Researchers have discovered a mechanism linked to the brain damage often suffered by stroke victims—and are now searching for drugs to block it.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.