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Here is why wounds heal faster in the mouth than in other skin

Study IDs proteins that regulate gene activity to lessen inflammation and speed wound closure

QUICK FIX The inside of the mouth heals much faster than external skin does. Scientists have discovered some proteins that contribute to the mouth’s speed healing.


Mouth wounds heal faster than injuries to other parts of the skin, and now scientists are learning how the mouth performs its speedy repairs.

Some master regulators of gene activity work overtime in the mouth to heal wounds without scarring, researchers report July 25 in Science Translational Medicine. Those regulators — proteins known as SOX2, PITX1, PITX2 and PAX9 — are active in skin cells called keratinocytes in the mouth, but not in skin cells from the arm. The regulators hold down inflammation that can lead to scarring and turn on molecular programs involved in cell movement and wound closure, say the researchers, from the University of California, San Diego and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

Knowing how the mouth performs its speed healing may eventually lead to therapies that fix skin sores without forming scars. Because the regulators are involved in many biological processes, including guiding an organism’s development, scientists need to discover which of these processes is important for wound healing, says Luis Garza, a skin researcher and dermatologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The study may provide some clues.

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