Sweat glands help heal wounds
Don't be too surprised if the glands that make you sweat could also help heal skin wounds, such as scrapes, burns and ulcers, says a new study.
Human skin is rich with millions of sweat glands that help the body cool down after a trip to the gym or on a warm day. They also play a key role in providing cells for recovering skin wounds, according to a University of Michigan Health System research.
"Skin ulcers - including those caused by diabetes or bed sores - and other non-healing wounds remain a tremendous burden on health services and communities around the world," said ILaure Rittie, research assistant professor of dermatology at Michigan Medical School, who led the study.
"Treating chronic wounds costs tens of billions of dollars annually in the US alone, and this price tag just keeps rising. Something isn't working," Rittie was quoted as saying in the American Journal of Pathology.
Now, Michigan researchers believe they have discovered one of the body's most powerful secret weapons in healing.
"By identifying a key process of wound closure, we can examine drug therapies with a new target in mind: sweat glands, which are very under-studied," Rittie said, according to a Michigan statement.
Previous understanding of wound closure was that new skin cells originate from hair follicles and from intact skin at the edge of the wound.
The Michigan findings demonstrate that cells arise from beneath the wound, and suggest that human sweat glands also store an important reservoir of adult stem cells that can quickly be recruited to aid wound healing.
"It may be surprising that it's taken until now to discover the sweat glands' vital role in wound repair. But there's a good reason why these specific glands are under-studied - sweat glands are unique to humans and absent in the body skin of laboratory animals that are commonly used for wound healing research," added Rittie.