Wound healing is promoted by the presence of replicating microorganisms adhering to the wounded tissue, but the precise mechanism is not fully understood. In the present study, using a rat model with full-thickness dermal wounds, we examined the effect of Pseudomonas aeruginosa inoculation on wound healing and the role of neutrophils infiltrating the wound site. Within 3 days, inoculation with this bacterium had accelerated re-epithelialization, epidermal cell proliferation, and neo-vascularization, as well as the local infiltration of neutrophils, which reached a peak at 24 hours. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α was detected in the wound tissues on the mRNA and protein levels within 24 hours. Flow cytometry and immunohistochemical analyses detected higher levels of TNF-α in the infiltrating neutrophils in rats inoculated with P. aeruginosa than in uninoculated rats. Neutropenic rats treated with anti-neutrophil mAb or cyclophosphamide exhibited significant attenuation in re-epithelialization, epidermal cell proliferation, neo-vascularization, and TNF-α synthesis compared with control; administration of TNF-α reversed these attenuations. These wound-healing responses were decelerated in rats treated with anti-TNF-α mAb, as was the infiltration of neutrophils. These results indicate that inoculation with P. aeruginosa promotes wound healing by inducing the infiltration of neutrophils, which play a critical role as a major source of TNF-α.
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