Keloid tissue analysis discredits a role for myofibroblasts in disease pathogenesis

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Myofibroblasts, renowned for their contractility and extracellular matrix production, are widely considered the key effector cells for nearly all scars resulting from tissue repair processes, ranging from normal scars to extreme fibrosis. For example, it is often assumed that myofibroblasts underpin the characteristics of keloid scars, which are debilitating pathological skin scars lacking effective treatments due to a poor understanding of the disease mechanisms. Here we present primary and published transcriptional and histological evidence that myofibroblasts are not consistently present in primary keloid lesions, and when alpha-smooth muscle actin (αSMA)-positive cells are detected, they are not greater in number or expressing more αSMA than in normal or hypertrophic scars. In conclusion, keloid scars do not appear to require αSMA-positive myofibroblasts; continuing to consider keloids on a quantitative spectrum with normal or hypertrophic scars, with αSMA serving as a biomarker of disease severity, is hindering advancement of understanding and therapy development.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Apr 2021


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