According to a press release published on October 15, 2021 in EurekAlert, scientists at Tokyo Medical and Dental University in Japan (TMDU) discovered that the movement of skin stem cells helps the organ regenerate. Notably, the study was published in the Journal of Cell Biology and specifically, the research showed that the regeneration of an injury occurs by the advancement of cells to the area.
Because over the years the capacity of skin regeneration decreases, scientists have identified a mechanism to explain its origin and how it can be solved. To better understand, skin stem cells, called keratinocytes, are responsible for the regeneration of this organ and the closure of wounds through a process called re-epithelialization.
For his part, Daisuke Nanba, secondary author of the study commented, “Simulation experiments showed that the motility of stem cells is coupled with their regenerative capacity. Likewise, it was observed in the sample that old stem cells have significantly reduced motility.” As part of the methodology, the scientists compared the wound-healing capacity of skin stem cells from young mice and aged mice.
Along the same lines, the experiments demonstrated that a specific molecule, called EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor), drives skin stem cell motility. The researchers also discovered that EGFR signaling is reduced in old cells and acts by preventing the degradation of collagen COL17A1, which is needed to bind skin layers together.
Importantly, COL17A1 coordinates the movement of skin stem cells toward the lesion to regenerate the area. In addition, the team of experts found that with age there is a decrease in EGFR signaling, leading to low levels of COL17A1. It should be added, with increasing age, a reduced skin wound healing capacity is associated with chronic disorders such as diabetic ulcers and pressure ulcers.
Finally, Emi Nishimura, lead author of the study said, “Stabilizing COL17A1 by regulating its proteolysis is a promising therapeutic approach to ameliorate the decreased regeneration observed with age that often leads to serious problems such as ulcers.” Therefore, it is pertinent to say that with such research, new therapeutic treatments can be implemented to improve the regenerative capacity of the skin.