Original Communications| Volume 131, ISSUE 3, P324-331, March 2002

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Impaired balance of type I and type III procollagen mRNA in cultured fibroblasts of patients with incisional hernia


      Background. Recent findings of an impaired protein ratio of type I to type III procollagen showed a disturbed collagen metabolism in incisional hernia development. We analyzed the type I and type III procollagen messenger RNA to investigate whether these findings represent the altered extracellular matrix or a primary defect at the transcriptional level. Methods. We examined cultured skin fibroblasts of patients with incisional or recurrent incisional hernia in comparison with those without any previous incision (control) and those with a skin scar without clinical appearance of a hernia (scar). Immunohistochemical detection of a lowered protein ratio of type I and type III collagen in the hernia skin tissue leads to mRNA expression analysis. The procollagen mRNA and the ratio of type I to type III procollagen mRNA are detected by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and Northern blot analysis, the collagens type I and III by Western blot analysis. Results. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction revealed an increase of type I procollagen mRNA in the incisional and recurrent hernia (0.90 ± 0.04 and 1.19 ± 0.04, respectively) compared with stable scar (0.54 ± 0.02) or healthy tissue (0.43 ± 0.01). The obvious rise of type III procollagen mRNA to 4.13 ± 0.04 for incisional, 6.02 ± 0.03 for recurrent hernia, 2.29 ± 0.04 for stable scar, and 1.72 ± 0.03 for the healthy tissue showed a significantly decreased ratio of type I to type III procollagen mRNA in the hernia patients as compared with the controls (P <.01). By Western blot analysis, an increase of type I and type III collagen protein and a significant rise in the corresponding ratio in the recurrent hernia group were detected. Conclusions. The altered synthesis of type I and type III collagen in cultured skin fibroblasts suggests a disorder of collagen metabolism, at least in patients with recurrent hernia. Hence, a basically impaired wound healing process is likely to contribute to the unsatisfactory results of incisional hernia repair. (Surgery 2002;131:324-31.)
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