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Research Article

Thrombin Improves Diabetic Wound Healing by ERK-Dependent and Independent Smad2/3 Linker Region Phosphorylation

[ Vol. 28 , Issue. 17 ]


Gang Luo, Chongyang Wang, Juehong Li, Xuancheng Zhang, Ziyang Sun, Sa Song* and Cunyi Fan*   Pages 1433 - 1443 ( 11 )


Background: Impaired wound healing is one of the most noteworthy features and troublesome complications of diabetes mellitus, which arouses a rising global health concern without potent remedies. Thrombin is the major hemostatic agent applied at wound healing initiation and recently gained therapeutic credits in later phases. However, a rare investigation achieved prolonged use of thrombin and probed the detailed mechanism.

Objective: The objective of this study is to investigate the effects and mechanism of thrombin on diabetic skin wound healing.

Methods: The effect of thrombin on fibroblast proliferation, α-SMA, and Collagen I expression was firstly studied in vitro by Cell Counting Kit 8 (CCK8) and western blotting. Then, the specific phosphorylation site of SMAD2/3 and their ERK1/2 dependence during thrombin treatment were assessed by western blotting for mechanism exploration. After that, full-thickness wound defects were established in diabetic male SD rats and treated with thrombin in the presence or absence of PD98059 to observe the in vivo effects of thrombin and to confirm its ERK dependence.

Results: We found that thrombin promoted fibroblast proliferation and their α-SMA and Collagen I production. Mechanistically, thrombin induced phosphorylation of Smad2 linker region (Ser245/250/255) through ERK1/2 phosphorylation but promoted phosphorylation of Smad3 linker region (Ser204) independent of ERK1/2. Histological results showed that thrombin facilitated wound healing by promoting α-SMA and Collagen I expression, which was not abolished by inhibiting ERK phosphorylation.

Conclusion: Collectively, this study validated the therapeutic efficacy of thrombin on diabetic wound healing and identified both ERK-dependent and -independent Smad2/3 linker region phosphorylation as the essential signaling events in this process.


Thrombin, wound healing, Smad2/3, linker region, ERK1/2, hemostatic agent.


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