Regeneration of the ear after wounding in different mouse strains is dependent on the severity of wound trauma

Charissa Rajnoch, Sharon Ferguson, Anthony Metcalfe, Sarah E. Herrick, Hayley S. Willis, Mark Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The replacement and restoration of tissue mass after organ damage or injury in adult higher vertebrates is critical to the architecture and function of the organ. If replacement occurs with scar tissue, this often results in adverse effects on function and growth as well as an undesirable cosmetic appearance. However, certain mammals, such as the MRL/MpJ mouse, have shown a restricted capacity for regeneration, rather than scar tissue formation, after an excisional ear punch wound. To investigate the changes in tissue architecture leading to ear wound closure, initial ear wounding studies with a 2-mm clinical biopsy punch were performed on MRL/MpJ mice, by using C57BL/6 mice as a nonregenerative control strain. In contrast to previously reported studies on mouse ear regeneration, we observed that C57BL/6 mice in fact showed a limited regenerative capacity. One explanation for this difference could be attributed to the method of wounding used; both previous studies on mouse ear regeneration used a thumb punch, whereas our approach was to use a clinical biopsy punch. This approach led us to further investigate whether the severity of trauma applied influenced the rate of wound healing. We, therefore, compared the effects of the sharp clinical biopsy punch with that of a cruder thumb punch, and introduced a third strain of mouse, Balb/c, known to be a slow-healing strain. A new method to quantify ear punch hole closure was developed and a histologic investigation conducted up to 4 months after wounding. Image analysis data showed a reduction in original ear wound area of 85% in MRL/MpJ mice at 4 weeks and of 91.7% over 4 months by using a biopsy punch. In contrast, the crude thumb punch methodology resulted in an increase in wound area of up to 58% in Balb/c ears; thought to be due to increased necrosis of the wound site. All biopsy-punched wound areas plateaued in healing between days 28 and 112. Only 5 of 80 MRL/MpJ mouse ears showed no residual holes macroscopically after 28 days. Histologically, all strains of mice healed their ear wounds in a similar manner involving re-epithelialization, blastema-like formation, dermal extension, blood vessel formation, chondrogenesis, folliculogenesis, and skeletal muscle and fat differentiation. However, all regenerative features were more pronounced and accelerated in MRL/MpJ mice when compared with C57BL/6 and Balb/c biopsy-punched mouse ears.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-397
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2003


  • MRL
  • regeneration
  • ear
  • wound healing


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