Your Skin Forms Memories: Inflammation Trains The Skin To Heal Faster

Your Skin Forms Memories: Inflammation Trains The Skin To Heal Faster!

A recent study published in nature October 2017 found that Stem cells in the skin remember an injury, help to close the recurring wounds faster. The discovery could advance research and treatment of psoriasis and other inflammatory diseases.

Scars may fade with time, but the skin remembers. The research from The Rockefeller University reveals that wounds or other harmful, inflammation-provoking experiences forms a long-lasting memory for stem cells residing in the skin and teach them to heal subsequent injuries faster.

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The stem cells that replenish the skin’s outer layer take their cue from inflammation, the body’s own response to injury or infection. The first bout of inflammation sensitizes these cells and whenever they sense it next time, they respond more rapidly.

According to the researcher this is the first evidence that the skin can form memories of an inflammatory response. And they believe that their research will have major implications for better understanding and treating various medical conditions.

The memory of inflammation helps to maintain the integrity of skin by enhancing the responsiveness to further inflammation. But this memory can also be detrimental by contributing to the relapse of certain inflammatory disorders such as psoriasis.

Whether it is burned by the sun, attacked by microbes, nicked by a paper cut or worse, the skin quickly becomes inflamed — red, swollen, and painful — as the body seeks to halt the damage and initiate repair. For long time it is known that system maintains a memory of inflammation to response faster for recurrent infection. So, the researcher of this study suspects that other types of long-lived cells might similarly remember inflammation. They choose to experiment on skin as skin is the most logical choice because it encounters frequent assaults.


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The outer most layer of the skin, epithelium do not stick around long enough to form such memories. But deep inside the epithelium, reside the stem cells which are responsible for continuously replenishing it. These stem cells remain in place for long time even after the skin has recovered from inflammation.

In the study the researcher showed that wound closed more than two times faster for a similar inflammation that the skin had experienced before than those skin that are experiencing the damage for the first time.

They found a gene very critical for this process. The gene called Aim2, which encodes a “damage-and-danger” sensing protein: an initial bout of inflammation prompts a sustained increase in its expression. A second assault quickly activates the protein, resulting in the production of an inflammatory response that boosts the stem cells’ ability to migrate into site of the wound.


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