Previous experimental studies have suggested that tumor necrosis factor (TNF) may have either a beneficial or a detrimental role in wound healing. Control and doxorubicin-treated (6 mg/kg, intravenously) rats underwent paired dorsal 5-cm linear wounds and had either vehicle or recombinant (r) TNF (0.5, 5, or 50 μg) applied locally to the wound. Paired wounds were harvested at 7 and 14 days after wounding and analyzed for wound-bursting strength (WBS) and activity of the gene for type 1 collagen and TNF. Doxorubicin treatment decreased WBS at 14 days but not at 7 days after wounding. Local application of 50 μg of rTNF decreased WBS in saline-treated rats and concentrations of 5 and 50 μg decreased WBS in doxorubicin-treated rats when measured 7 days after wounding. These effects dissipated when WBS was measured 14 days after wounding. Doxorubicin decreased wound collagen gene expression and local TNF treatment decreased wound collagen gene expression in saline-treated rats and further decreased it in doxorubicin-treated rats. The decrement in collagen gene expression induced by rTNF increased as the local dose of rTNF increased. The gene for TNF was not detectable in wounds from normal or doxorubin-treated rats at 3, 7, 10, or 14 days after wounding. These data suggest that the gene for TNF is not expressed in wounds and that the local application of TNF is detrimental to wound healing as it decreases WBS and activity of the gene for collagen.
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