Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Iowa Technology Institute

People: James Ankrum, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and Edward Sander, associate professor of biomedical engineering

Mission Areas: Biotechnology

Labs: Ankrum Lab and 3MT Laboratory (Multi-scale Mechanics, Mechanobiology, and Tissue Engineering Laboratory)

A team of University of Iowa scholars led by faculty affiliates with the Iowa Technology Institute released findings this week expanding the understanding of the role fat tissue plays in healing wounds and may help to uncover and develop fat-related wound healing treatments.

Autologous fat grafting - in which fat is transferred from one part of the body to another, often during reconstructive surgery, to promote healing and reduce scarring - has become widely accepted. However, the efficacy of the practice remains in doubt and the underlying biological processes involved remain largely unknown.

A research collaboration co-led by Ed Sander and James Ankrum, associate professors in the Roy. J. Carver Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Al Klingelhutz, professor of microbiology and immunology, shed new light. 

The key finding was that fat cells differentially regulate the behavior of fibroblasts, a cell type involved in tissue repair. The research found that interactions between fibroblasts and secreted factors from two components of fat, pre-adipocytes and adipocytes, differentially secrete factors that regulate fibroblast behavior. 

The results of their work were published in Nature Research: Scientific Reports. The article is titled "Human Adipocyte Conditioned Medium Promotes In Vitro Fibroblast Conversion to Myofibroblasts."

Read the publication here

Wound Healing with Fat Cells diagram 2 - Sander and Ankrum
Adipocyte Conditioned Medium Promotes Fibrin Gel Compaction. (A) Representative images of fibroblast-seeded fibrin gels shortly after release and 24 hours later. Gels were cultured in control media, TGFβ1 and AA supplemented media (positive control), pre-adipocyte conditioned media (PCM), or adipocyte conditioned media (ACM). (B) A representative experiment showing percent reduction in initial gel area (i.e., compaction) over time (mean ± SD, n = 3). (C) Fibrin gel compaction at 24 hours normalized by controls for n = 3 independent experiments, each with 3 sample replicates per group. Data is presented as mean ± SEM. A one-way ANOVA with Tukey post hoc tests indicates ACM treated gels were significantly reduced in area compared to control (p < 0.001), positive control (p < 0.05), and PCM (p < 0.001).