The objective of this work was to identify and compare hyaluronidase activities of normal dermal and dermal wound granulation tissue fibroblasts. Direct evidence of the fibroblast as a source of tissue hyaluronidase was obtained. Fourth passage rabbit dermal fibroblasts were harvested on culture days 4, 8, 14, 18, and 22. Hyaluronidase activity and [35S]-sulfate- or [3H]-glucosamine-labeled glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) were monitored. Hyaluronidase assays were performed on medium and cellular fractions at the designated intervals. Enzyme activity of cellular fractions for both normal dermal and 14-day post-wound granulation tissue fibroblasts increased progressively through culture day 8. Thereafter (days 14-22), an eight-fold drop in cellular activity was coupled with cell death and emergence of hyaluronidase activity in medium fractions. Marked increases in degradation of secreted matrix components were concurrent with lysis-induced release of hyaluronidase. In this culture system, hyaluronidase activity was confined exclusively to cellular fractions and was released into the medium only under non-physiological conditions conducive to cellular death and lysis. Accordingly, this work suggests that previously reported skin wound hyaluronidases may be offibroblastic origin and that susceptible GAGs are not degraded extracellularly, but, rather, must be internalized as a prerequisite to devolymerization.
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