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Inhibition of Wnt/β-catenin pathway promotes regenerative repair of cutaneous and cartilage injury.


Bastakoty DDikshya , Saraswati S Sarika , Cates J Justin , Lee E Ethan , Nanney LB Lillian B , Young PP Pampee P . FASEB Journal . 2015 12 ; 29(12). 4881-92


Wound healing in mammals is a fibrotic process. The mechanisms driving fibrotic (as opposed to regenerative) repair are poorly understood. Herein we report that therapeutic Wnt inhibition with topical application of small-molecule Wnt inhibitors can reduce fibrosis and promote regenerative cutaneous wound repair. In the naturally stented model of ear punch injury, we found that Wnt/β-catenin pathway is activated most notably in the dermis of the wound bed early (d 2) after injury and subsides to baseline levels by d10. Topical application of either of 2 mechanistically distinct small-molecule Wnt pathway inhibitors (a tankyrase inhibitor, XAV-939, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved casein kinase activator, pyrvinium) in C57Bl/6J mice resulted in significantly increased rates of wound closure (72.3 ± 14.7% with XAV-939; and 52.1 ± 20.9% with pyrvinium) compared with contralateral controls (38.1 ± 23.0 and 40.4.± 16.7%, respectively). Histologically, Wnt inhibition reduced fibrosis as measured by α-smooth muscle actin positive myofibroblasts and collagen type I α1 synthesis. Wnt inhibition also restored skin architecture including adnexal structures in ear wounds and dermal-epidermal junction with rete pegs in excisional wounds. Additionally, in ear punch injury Wnt inhibitor treatment enabled regeneration of auricular cartilage. Our study shows that pharmacologic Wnt inhibition holds therapeutic utility for regenerative repair of cutaneous wounds.