International journal of legal medicine

Detection of endothelial progenitor cells in human skin wounds and its application for wound age determination.

PMID 25845667


Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), a newly identified cell type, are bone marrow-derived progenitor cells that co-express stem cell markers and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor (Flk-1). In this study, a double-color immunofluorescence analysis was carried out using anti-CD34 and anti-Flk-1 antibodies to examine the time-dependent appearance of EPCs, using 52 human skin wounds with different wound ages (Group I, 0-1 days; Group II, 2-6 days; Group III, 7-14 days; and Group IV, 17-21 days). In wound specimens with an age of less than one day, CD34(+)/Flk-1(+) EPCs were not detected. EPCs were initially observed in wounds aged two days, and their number was increased in lesions with advances in wound age. In morphometrical analysis, the average number of EPCs was the highest in the wounds of Group III. Especially, 20 out of 21 wounds aged 7-12 days had >20 EPCs, and all wound samples with postinfliction intervals of 14-21 days had <15 EPCs. These observations at least showed that >20 EPCs would indicate a wound age of 7-12 days. Taken together, our observations indicate the detection of EPCs would be useful for wound age determination.