Background: Topically applied opioids promote angiogenesis and healing of ischemic wounds in rats. We examined if topical fentanyl stimulates wound healing in diabetic rats by stimulating growth-promoting signaling, angiogenesis, lymphangiogenesis and nerve regeneration. Methods: We used Zucker diabetic fatty rats that develop obesity and diabetes on a high fat diet due to a mutation in the Leptin receptor. Fentanyl blended with hydrocream was applied topically on ischemic wounds twice daily, and wound closure was analyzed regularly. Wound histology was analyzed by hematoxylin and eosin staining. Angiogenesis, lymphangiogenesis, nerve fibers and phospho-platelet derived growth factor receptor-β (PDGFR-β) were visualized by CD31-, lymphatic vessel endothelium-1, protein gene product 9.5- and anti-phospho PDGFR-β-immunoreactivity, respectively. Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and PDGFR-β signaling were analyzed using Western immunoblotting. Results: Fentanyl significantly promoted wound closure as compared to phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). Histology scores were significantly higher in fentanyl-treated wounds, indicative of increased granulation tissue formation, reduced edema and inflammation, and increased matrix deposition. Fentanyl treatment resulted in increased wound angiogenesis, lymphatic vasculature, nerve fibers, nitric oxide, NOS and PDGFR-β signaling as compared to PBS. Phospho-PDGFR-β co-localized with CD31 co-staining for vasculature. Conclusions: Topically applied fentanyl promotes closure of ischemic wounds in diabetic rats. Increased angiogenesis, lymphangiogenesis, peripheral nerve regeneration, NO and PDGFR-β signaling are associated with fentanyl-induced tissue remodeling and wound healing.
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© 2014 Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine and Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.