Chronic wounds are a growing problem worldwide with no effective therapeutic treatments available. Our objective was to understand the composition of the dermal tissue surrounding venous leg ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers (DFU). We used novel 2-photon imaging techniques alongside classical histology to examine biopsies from the edges of two common types of chronic wound, venous leg ulcers and DFU. Compared to normal intact skin, we found that collagen levels are significantly reduced throughout the dermis of venous leg ulcer biopsies and DFU, with a reduction in both fibril thickness and abundance. Both wound types showed a significant reduction in elastin in the upper dermis, but in DFU, the loss was throughout the dermis. Loss of extracellular matrix correlated with high levels of CD68- and CD18-positive leukocytes. 2-photon imaging of the extracellular matrix in the intact tissue surrounding a chronic wound with a hand-held device may provide a useful clinical indicator on the healing progression or deterioration of these wounds.

Sutcliffe, Thrasivoulou, Serena, Madden, Richards, Phillips, Becker, , (2017). Changes in the extracellular matrix surrounding human chronic wounds revealed by 2-photon imaging. International wound journal, 2017 Dec;14(6):1225-1236. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28730726