• cell migration;
  • keratinocyte;
  • oxygen tension;
  • ROS;
  • skin

Abstract:  Migration of keratinocytes to re-epithelialize wounds is a key step in dermal wound healing. In aged human skin, wound healing rates decrease and cellular damage by reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulates. The relationship between age, ROS and human skin keratinocyte migration is not clearly understood. In this study, 4% and 21% oxygen tensions were used to modify levels of ROS produced by metabolism to model low and high oxidative stress conditions. When migration of keratinocytes from young and old primary skin was compared using an in vitro scratch assay, old keratinocytes migrated faster in high oxygen tension than did young keratinocytes, whereas young keratinocytes migrated faster in low oxygen tension. Although all young and old cells at the scratch margins showed intense increases in dihydroethidium oxidation immediately after scratching, the old keratinocytes grown at 21% oxygen demonstrated a greater decrease in the DHE oxidation following scratching and migrated the fastest. These results show that old and young keratinocytes respond to oxygen tension differently and support the hypothesis that keratinocyte migration is affected by the capacity to remove ROS.