Shockwave treatment accelerates impaired wound healing in diverse clinical situations. However, the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of shockwaves have not yet been fully revealed. Since cell proliferation is a major requirement in the wound healing cascade, we used in vitro studies and an in vivo wound healing model to study whether shockwave treatment influences proliferation by altering major extracellular factors and signaling pathways involved in cell proliferation. We identified extracellular ATP, released in an energy- and pulse number-dependent manner, as a trigger of the biological effects of shockwave treatment. Shockwave treatment induced ATP release, increased Erk1/2 and p38 MAPK activation, and enhanced proliferation in three different cell types (C3H10T1/2 murine mesenchymal progenitor cells, primary human adipose derived stem cells, human Jurkat T cell line) in vitro. Purinergic signaling-induced Erk1/2 activation was found to be essential for this proliferative effect, which was further confirmed by in vivo studies in a rat wound healing model where shockwave treatment induced proliferation and increased wound healing in an Erk1/2 dependent fashion.
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