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Study reveals how cells detect tissue damage

Bristol, England — Researchers here say they have discovered how cells detect tissue damage and modify their repair properties accordingly, information that could improve tissue repair in patients following illness or surgery, Medical News Today reports.

The study, conducted by biochemists at the University of Bristol, examined the signaling process in damaged tissue cells and identified the cellular mechanisms responsible for activating effective repair.

Using atomic force microscopy, investigators determined how a molecule sensor, syndecan-4, triggers the uptake and redeployment of adhesive molecules. This signaling pathway causes fibroblasts and keratinocytes to migrate in response to the changing tissue architecture and to follow the matrix fibers that make up the skin. The migration toward a damage signal allows the cells to arrive at the wound far more efficiently than if activated cells searched randomly around the tissue, and results in a very efficient healing response.

Medical News Today quotes lead author and research fellow Mark Bass, Ph.D., as saying, “Each of these processes requires the turnover of cellular adhesions, and the challenge has been to determine how cells detect tissue damage and modify their adhesive properties accordingly. … We find that this signaling cascade is essential for efficient healing, (and) this opens up considerable opportunities for improving tissue repair in patients.”

The findings were published in the journal Developmental Cell.

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