Trypsin potentiates human fibrocyte differentiation.
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Trypsin-containing topical treatments can be used to speed wound healing, although the mechanism of action is unknown. To help form granulation tissue and heal wounds, monocytes leave the circulation, enter the wound tissue, and differentiate into fibroblast-like cells called fibrocytes. We find that 20 to 200 ng/ml trypsin (concentrations similar to those used in wound dressings) potentiates the differentiation of human monocytes to fibrocytes in cell culture. Adding trypsin inhibitors increases the amount of trypsin needed to potentiate fibrocyte differentiation, suggesting that the potentiating effect is dependent on trypsin proteolytic activity. Proteases with other site specificities such as pepsin, endoprotease GluC, and chymotrypsin do not potentiate fibrocyte differentiation. This potentiation requires the presence of albumin in the culture medium, and tryptic fragments of human or bovine albumin also potentiate fibrocyte differentiation. These results suggest that topical trypsin speeds wound healing by generating tryptic fragments of albumin, which in turn potentiate fibrocyte differentiation.