Tissue injury in adult mammalian skin frequently results in scarring while fetal mammalian skin heals with complete regeneration. Inflammatory reactions are among the factors thought to impair regeneration. Previous studies have shown that the injection of an immunologically tolerated protein blocks immune responses to unrelated antigens and is also able to inhibit inflammation in mice. This phenomenon, which we refer to as the indirect effects of oral tolerance, does not require the simultaneous injection of the tolerated antigen and the second antigen, and also occurs when the two antigens are given by separate routes of immunization. Herein, we investigated whether the i.p. injection of an orally tolerated antigen (ovalbumin, OVA) would inhibit inflammatory reactions at an incisional lesion and influence healing of adult mouse skin. In OVA-tolerant mice, the injection of OVA minutes before wounding altered inflammation: it reduced the numbers of mast cells, neutrophils, and lymphocytes but increased the number of macrophages around the lesion area. Tolerant mice also showed fewer myofibroblasts and reduced scar area. Furthermore, tolerant mice displayed a pattern of extracellular matrix deposition similar to that observed in intact skin, pluscharacteristics of regeneration, such as an increased deposition of fibronectin and tenascin-C. These observations suggest that the indirect effects of oral tolerance can alter the process of wound healing in skin and reduce scar formation. © 2011 by the Wound Healing Society.
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