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Hydroxypyridone anti-fungals selectively induce myofibroblast apoptosis in an in vitro model of hypertrophic scars

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-02-23, 14:34 authored by Alice Ruth Lapthorn, Marcus Maximillian Ilg, Peter Dziewulski, Selim Cellek

Hypertrophic scars are a common complication of burn injuries, yet there are no medications to prevent their formation. During scar formation, resident fibroblasts are transformed to myofibroblasts which become resistant to apoptosis. Previously, we have shown that hydroxypyridone anti-fungals can inhibit transformation of fibroblasts, isolated from hypertrophic scars, to myofibroblasts. This study aimed to investigate if these drugs can also target myofibroblast persistence. Primary human dermal fibroblasts, derived from burn scar tissue, were exposed to transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-β1) for 72 h to induce myofibroblast transformation. The cells were then incubated with three hydroxypyridone anti-fungals (ciclopirox, ciclopirox ethanolamine and piroctone olamine; 0.03–300 μM) for a further 72 h. The In-Cell ELISA method was utilised to quantify myofibroblast transformation by measuring alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression and DRAQ5 staining, to measure cell viability. TUNEL staining was utilised to assess if the drugs could induce apoptosis. When given to established myofibroblasts, the three hydroxypyridones did not reverse myofibroblast transformation, but instead elicited a concentration-dependent decrease in cell viability. TUNEL staining confirmed that the hydroxypyridone anti-fungals induced apoptosis in established myofibroblasts. This is the first study to show that hydroxypyridone anti-fungals are capable of inducing apoptosis in established myofibroblasts. Together with our previous results, we suggest that hydroxypyridone anti-fungals can prevent scar formation by preventing the formation of new myofibroblasts and by reducing the number of existing myofibroblasts.



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Publication title

European Journal of Pharmacology




Elsevier BV

File version

  • Published version


  • eng

Affiliated with

  • Medical Technologies Research Centre (MTRC) Outputs