Human wound contraction: Collagen organization, fibroblasts, and myofibroblasts

David P. Berry, Keith G. Harding, Michael R. Stanton, Bharat Jasani, H. Paul Ehrlich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Citations (Scopus)


The closure of ungrafted sacrococcygeal pilonidal sinus excisional wounds was studied in 15 patients. Wound punch biopsies were taken on a regular basis, and histologic sections were made. To document changes, computer-assisted morphometric image analysis was employed. Initial average wound depth was 37.8 ± 4.6 mm, and complete closure (0 wound depth) was reached by 68 days. Wound contraction contributed 88 percent to wound closure, whereas the deposition of scar only contributed 12 percent. Maximum cells density within granulation tissue was reached by day 18. Myofibroblasts, identified by α-smooth muscle actin immunostaining, first appeared on day 11. Unlike those observed in laboratory animals, myofibroblasts were a minor cell population of granulation tissue, never exceeding 10 percent of the cells. The pattern of collagen fiber organization was documented by polarized light microscopy of Sirius redstained sections. Early granulation tissue collagen fibers demonstrated a fine greenish birefringence, whereas more mature granulation tissue collagen fibers were thicker, displaying orange-yellowish birefringence. Myofibroblasts were associated exclusively with thicker collagen fibers, whereas fibroblasts were associated with both fine and thick collagen fibers. It is proposed that human wound contraction involves a volume change whereby normal dermal and adipose tissues are pulled into the defect by forces generated within fibroblasts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-134
Number of pages11
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Human wound contraction: Collagen organization, fibroblasts, and myofibroblasts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this