The myofibroblast population was studied by electron microscopy in rat wounds healing by (1) contraction of granulation tissue, (2) by coverage with split-skin grafts, and (3) by coverage with full-thickness skin grafts. In all 3 types of wounds, myofibroblasts appeared early and reached a peak number at two weeks after wounding. At this time, 40 to 50 percent of the wound fibroblasts had myofibroblast characteristics.
The granulating wounds contracted rapidly and completely, and had long persistence of myofibroblasts. Split-skin grafted wounds contracted less and had a more rapid decrease in myofibroblasts. The wounds covered with full-thickness skin grafts had a minimum of contraction with a very rapid decrease in the number of myofibroblasts until by 4 weeks no myofibroblasts were present. Full-thickness skin grafts thus appeared to influence contracting wounds not by preventing the formation of myofibroblasts, but by speeding up completion of their life cycle.