Intermittent pressure decreases human keratinocyte proliferation in vitro

Maria R. Nasca, Alan T. Shih, Dennis P. West*, Wanda M. Martinez, Giuseppe Micali, Adam S. Landsman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: The aim of this study was to investigate the correlation between pressure changes and keratinocyte proliferation by determining whether keratinocytes exposed to altered mechanical pressures would proliferate at different rates compared to control cells not subjected to pressure changes. Methods: Tissue culture flasks of human keratinocytes plated at an approximate density of 15,000 cells/cm2 undergoing an intermittent cyclic pressure of 362 mm Hg at a frequency of 2.28 or 5.16 cycles/min (0.038 or 0.086 Hz) for 8 h were compared to control flasks grown at ambient room pressure. An in-line pressure transducer was used to monitor and adjust pressure within the cell chambers, using a solenoid valve. A thymidine incorporation assay assessed the amount of cell proliferation in each set of experiments. Results: Differences in proliferation between keratinocytes subjected to cyclic pressure changes and control cells were found to be statistically significant (p < 0.05) in 4 out of 5 proliferation assays. Also, a higher frequency of pressure changes consistently generated a reduced proliferation rate compared to that seen in cells exposed to a lower frequency of pressure changes. Conclusion: These data indicate that keratinocytes undergoing intermittent pressure changes exhibit decreased proliferation rates compared to controls. Furthermore, an increased frequency rate seems to have a greater effect on proliferation than low-frequency rate pressure changes, suggesting that the stress caused by frequently changed pressure may play a greater role in reducing keratinocyte proliferation than the actual magnitude of load applied to the cells. Our results support the current treatment protocol of reducing speed and duration of walking on the site of the wound to promote healing of foot ulcers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-312
Number of pages8
JournalSkin Pharmacology and Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Cultured human keratinocytes
  • Diabetes
  • Foot ulcers
  • Mechanical stress
  • Pressure loads
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Dermatology


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