A longitudinal assessment of chronic wound fluid to detect biochemical indicators of healing
Published on Jan 1, 2010
Chronic venous leg ulcers are a detrimental health issue plaguing our society, resulting in long term pain, immobility and decreased quality of life for a large proportion of sufferers. The frequency of these chronic wounds has led current research to focus on the wound environment to provide important information regarding the prolonged, fluctuated or static healing patterns of these wounds. Disruption to the normal wound healing process results in release of multiple factors in the wound environment that could correlate to wound chronicity. These biochemical factors can often be detected through non-invasively sampling chronic wound fluid (CWF) from the site of injury. Of note, whilst there are numerous studies comparing acute and chronic wound fluids, there have not been any reports in the literature employing a longitudinal study in order to track biochemical changes in wound fluid as patients transition from a non-healing to healed state. Initially the objective of this study was to identify biochemical changes in CWF associated with wound healing using a proteomic approach. The proteomic approach incorporated a multi-dimensional liquid chromatography fractionation technique coupled with mass spectrometry (MS) to enable identification of proteins present in lower concentrations in CWF. Not surprisingly, many of the proteins identified in wound fluid were acute phase proteins normally expressed during the inflammatory phase of healing. However, the number of proteins positively identified by MS was quite low. This was attributed to the diverse range in concentration of protein species in CWF making it challenging to detect the diagnostically relevant low molecular weight proteins. In view of this, SELDI-TOF MS was also explored as a means to target low molecular weight proteins in sequential patient CWF samples during the course of healing. Unfortunately, the results generated did not yield any peaks of interest that were altered as wounds transitioned to a healed state. During the course of proteomic assessment of CWF, it became evident that a fraction of non-proteinaceous compounds strongly absorbed at 280 nm. Subsequent analyses confirmed that most of these compounds were in fact part of the purine catabolic pathway, possessing distinctive aromatic rings and which results in high absorbance at 254 nm. The accumulation of these purinogenic compounds in CWF suggests that the wound bed is poorly oxygenated resulting in a switch to anaerobic metabolism and consequently ATP breakdown. In addition, the presence of the terminal purine catabolite, uric acid (UA), indicates that the enzyme xanthine oxidoreductase (XOR) catalyses the reaction of hypoxanthine to xanthine and finally to UA. More importantly, the studies provide evidence for the first time of the exogenous presence of XOR in CWF. XOR is the only enzyme in humans capable of catalysing the production of UA in conjunction with a burst of the highly reactive superoxide radical and other oxidants like H2O2. Excessive release of these free radicals in the wound environment can cause cellular damage disrupting the normal wound healing process. In view of this, a sensitive and specific assay was established for monitoring low concentrations of these catabolites in CWF. This procedure involved combining high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with tandem mass spectrometry and multiple reaction monitoring (MRM). This application was selective, using specific MRM transitions and HPLC separations for each analyte, making it ideal for the detection and quantitation of purine catabolites in CWF. The results demonstrated that elevated levels of UA were detected in wound fluid obtained from patients with clinically worse ulcers. This suggests that XOR is active in the wound site generating significant amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS). In addition, analysis of the amount of purine precursors in wound fluid revealed elevated levels of purine precursors in wound fluid from patients with less severe ulcers. Taken together, the results generated in this thesis suggest that monitoring changes of purine catabolites in CWF is likely to provide valuable information regarding the healing patterns of chronic venous leg ulcers. XOR catalysis of purine precursors not only provides a method for monitoring the onset, prognosis and progress of chronic venous leg ulcers, but also provides a potential therapeutic target by inhibiting XOR, thus blocking UA and ROS production. Targeting a combination of these purinogenic compounds and XOR could lead to the development of novel point of care diagnostic tests. Therefore, further investigation of these processes during wound healing will be worthwhile and may assist in elucidating the pathogenesis of this disease state, which in turn may lead to the development of new diagnostics and therapies that target these processes.