Unraveling the role of the immune system in the development of exuberant granulation tissue in horse wounds

01 January 2024 → 31 December 2027
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Animal cell and molecular biology
  • Agricultural and food sciences
    • Veterinary anatomy, morphology and (clinical) pathology
exuberant granulation tissue horses wound healing
Project description

Wounds on the distal limbs of horses pose a major risk of complicated wound healing as these wounds need to heal by second intention. An often observed complication is the excessive, tumour-like growth of granulation tissue well beyond the wound margins. This exuberant granulation tissue (EGT) hampers wound closure and therefore healing. This wound healing disorder is considered a serious burden in equine veterinary care and is one of the main causes for early retirement and even death or euthanasia in horses. To date, there is no effective treatment for EGT, partly because the mechanisms of this disturbed wound healing remain poorly understood. We have preliminary data that the immune system plays an important role in EGT. Within the present project, we want to further deepen our understanding of the immune landscape in EGT by comparing fast versus slow healing EGT cases. We will perform a basic histological analysis, combined with laser capture microdissection and sequencing, followed by in vitro experiments to investigate the behavior of fibroblasts after stimulation by cytokines and/or immune cells. Finally, we will also investigate the wound microbiome, as EGT wounds are never sterile and the composition of the wound microbiome can have a direct effect on EGT. With this set-up, we want to unravel the mechanisms that lead to fibroblast hyperproliferation in EGT and identify treatment options for more effective wound care of horse limb wounds.