Clinical strategies for the alleviation of contractures from a predictive mathematical model of dermal repair

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Hypertrophic scars arise when there is an overproduction of collagen during wound healing. These are often associated with poor regulation of the rate of programmed cell death (apoptosis) of the cells synthesizing the collagen or by an exuberant inflammatory response that prolongs collagen production and increases wound contraction. Severe contractures that occur, e.g., after a deep burn, can cause loss of function especially if the wound is over a joint such as the elbow or knee. Recently, we have developed a morphoelastic mathematical model for dermal repair that incorporates the chemical, cellular, and mechanical aspects of dermal wound healing. Using this model, we examine pathological scarring in dermal repair by first assuming a smaller than usual apoptotic rate for myofibroblasts, and then considering a prolonged inflammatory response, in an attempt to determine a possible optimal intervention strategy to promote normal repair, or terminate the fibrotic scarring response. Our model predicts that in both cases it is best to apply the intervention strategy early in the wound healing response. Further, the earlier an intervention is made, the less aggressive the intervention required. Finally, if intervention is conducted at a late time during healing, a significant intervention is required; however, there is a threshold concentration of the drug or therapy applied, above which minimal further improvement to wound repair is obtained.

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