PloS one

Endoglin haploinsufficiency promotes fibroblast accumulation during wound healing through Akt activation.

PMID 23349951


Accurate regulation of dermal fibroblast function plays a crucial role in wound healing. Many fibrotic diseases are characterized by a failure to conclude normal tissue repair and the persistence of fibroblasts inside lesions. In the present study we demonstrate that endoglin haploinsufficiency promotes fibroblast accumulation during wound healing. Moreover, scars from endoglin-heterozygous (Eng(+/-)) mice show persisting fibroblasts 12 days after wounding, which could lead to a fibrotic scar. Endoglin haploinsufficiency results in increased proliferation and migration of primary cultured murine dermal fibroblasts (MDFs). Moreover, Eng(+/-) MDF have diminished responses to apoptotic signals compared with control cells. Altogether, these modifications could explain the augmented presence of fibroblasts in Eng(+/-) mice wounds. We demonstrate that endoglin expression regulates Akt phosphorylation and that PI3K inhibition abolishes the differences in proliferation between endoglin haploinsufficient and control cells. Finally, persistent fibroblasts in Eng(+/-) mice wound co-localize with a greater degree of Akt phosphorylation. Thus, endoglin haploinsufficiency seems to promote fibroblast accumulation during wound healing through the activation of the PI3K/Akt pathway. These studies open new non-Smad signaling pathway for endoglin regulating fibroblast cell function during wound healing, as new therapeutic opportunities for the treatment of fibrotic wounds.