Short-term treatment of equine wounds with orf virus IL-10 and VEGF-E dampens inflammation and promotes repair processes without accelerating closure

Christa J Bodaan, Lyn M Wise, Kirsty A Wakelin, Gabriella S Stuart, Nicola C Real, Andrew A Mercer, Christopher B Riley, Christine Theoret
Wound Repair and Regeneration 2016, 24 (6): 966-980
Healing is delayed in limb wounds relative to body wounds of horses, partly because of sustained inflammation and inefficient angiogenesis. In laboratory animals, proteins derived from orf virus modulate these processes and enhance healing. We aimed to compare immune cell trafficking and the inflammatory, vascular, and epidermal responses in body and limb wounds of horses and then to investigate the impact of orf virus interleukin-10 and vascular endothelial growth factor-E on these processes. Standardized excisional wounds were created on the body and forelimb of horses and their progression monitored macroscopically until healed. Tissue samples were harvested to measure the expression of genes regulating inflammation and repair (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) and to observe epithelialization (histology), innate immune cell infiltration, and angiogenesis (immunofluorescence). Delayed healing of limb wounds was characterized by intensified and extended pro-inflammatory signaling and exacerbated innate immune response, concomitant with the absence of anti-inflammatory eIL-10. Blood vessels were initially more permeable and then matured belatedly, concomitant with retarded production of angiogenic factors. Epithelial coverage was achieved belatedly in limb wounds. Viral proteins were administered to wounds of one body and one limb site/horse at days 1-3, while wounds at matching sites served as controls. Treatment dampened pro-inflammatory gene expression and the innate immune response in all wounds. It also improved angiogenic gene expression, but primarily in body wounds, where it altered blood vessel density and myofibroblast persistence. Moreover, the viral proteins increased epithelialization of all wounds. The short-term viral protein therapy did not, however, improve the healing rate of wounds in either location, likely due to suboptimal dosing. In conclusion, we have further detailed the processes contributing to protracted healing in limb wounds of horses and shown that short-term administration of viral proteins exerts several promising though transient effects that, if optimized, may positively influence healing.

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