New insights in wound response and repair of epithelium


  • The authors have no conflict of interest.


Epithelial wounds usually heal relatively quickly, but repair may be impaired by environmental stressors, such as hypoxic or diabetic states, rendering patients vulnerable to a number of corneal pathologies. Though this response appears simple, at first, years of research have uncovered the complicated biochemical pathways coordinating the wound healing response. Here, we investigate signaling cascades and individual proteins involved in the corneal epithelium's self-repair. We will explore how an epithelial cell migrates across the wound bed and attaches itself to its new post-injury surroundings, including its neighboring cells and the basement membrane, through focal adhesions and hemidesmosomes. We will also discuss how the cell coordinates this motion physiologically, through calcium signaling and protein phosphorylation, focusing on the communication through purinergic, glutamatergic, and growth factor receptors. Many of these aspects reflect and can be extended to similar epithelial surfaces, and can be used to facilitate wound healing in patients with various underlying pathologies. The collective library of laboratory and clinical research done around the world has demonstrated how important precise regulation of these processes is in order for the injured corneal epithelium to properly heal. J. Cell. Physiol. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.