Reduction of scar formation in full-thickness wounds with topical celecoxib treatment


Reprint requests: Tatiana M. Oberyszyn, PhD, 1645 Neil Avenue, 129 Hamilton Hall, Columbus, OH 43210. Fax: (614) 293-9805; Email:


Adult wound repair occurs with an initial inflammatory response, reepithelialization, and the formation of a permanent scar. Although the inflammatory phase is often considered a necessity for successful adult wound healing, fetal healing studies have shown the ability to regenerate skin and to heal wounds in a scarless manner in the absence of inflammation. The cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme, a known mediator of inflammation, has been shown to contribute to a variety of inflammatory conditions and to the development of cancer in many organs. To examine the role of COX-2 in the wound healing process, incisional wounds were treated topically with the anti-inflammatory COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib. Acutely, celecoxib inhibited several parameters of inflammation in the wound site. This decrease in the early inflammatory phase of wound healing had a significant effect on later events in the wound healing process, namely a reduction in scar tissue formation, without disrupting reepithelialization or decreasing tensile strength. Our data suggest that in the absence of infection, adult wound healing is able to commence with decreased inflammation and that anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to improve the outcome of the repair process in the skin by limiting scar formation. (WOUND REP REG 2003;11:25–34)