Great stuff from colleagues at Penn/UCI published in Science this week.
This further elucidates the axis between myofibroblasts and adipocytes/fat cells. This might play a significant role in scar revision, scar prevention and (perhaps more importantly) tissue repair in general.
Although regeneration via the reprogramming of one cell lineage to another occurs in fish and amphibians, it is not observed in mammals. We discovered in mouse that during wound healing adipocytes regenerate from myofibroblasts, a cell type thought to be differentiated and non-adipogenic. Myofibroblast reprogramming required neogenic hair follicles, which triggered BMP signaling and then activation of adipocyte transcription factors expressed during development. Overexpression of the BMP antagonist, noggin, in hair follicles or deletion of the BMP receptor in myofibroblasts prevented adipocyte formation. Adipocytes formed from human keloid fibroblasts when treated with either BMP or when placed with human hair follicles in vitro . Thus, we identify the myofibroblast as a plastic cell type that may be manipulated to treat scars in humans.