Topically applied simvastatin enhances wound recovery in diabetic mice

Published on November 28, 2012 at 1:07 AM · No Comments

Delayed wound healing is a major complication of diabetes because the physiological changes in tissues and cells impair the wound healing process. This can result in additional disease outcomes such as diabetic foot ulcer, a significant cause of morbidity in the growing population of diabetic patients. A new study has found that topically applied simvastatin accelerates wound healing in diabetic mice, suggesting important implications for humans with diabetes. This study is published in the December issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

The research was performed by scientists at the Departments of Dermatology and Ophthalmology of Kyoto Prefectural University School of Medicine, Kyoto, Japan; the Department of Dermatology at Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Hamamatsu, Japan; and Shiseido Innovative Scientific Research Center, Yamamoto, Japan.

"We know that there are several factors involved in delayed wound healing in diabetes," says lead investigator Jun Asai, MD, PhD. "These factors include more rapid apoptosis (cell death) and reduced angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels). Impaired lymphangiogenesis, or formation of new lymphatic vessels, has also recently been established as a major factor."

Recent studies have shown that statins have uses beyond their cholesterol-lowering effects and can stimulate the growth of new blood vessels when used systemically. This study tested whether topical application of simvastatin could promote angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis during wound healing in genetically diabetic mice. An advantage of topical application is that a suitable concentration of simvastatin can be applied without risk of serious systemic effects such as kidney damage.

The investigators generated a full-thickness skin wound on the backs of diabetic mice. Each wound was treated with a topical application of either simvastatin in petroleum jelly or petroleum jelly alone. The application was repeated on days four, seven, and ten.

After two weeks, the simvastatin-treated wounds were more than 90% healed, whereas less than 80% were healed in the wounds treated by petroleum jelly alone. The difference in wound closure was greatest on day seven when the simvastatin-treated wounds were 79.26% healed compared with 52.45% in the control group.

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