Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke has been linked to numerous health problems, including poor wound healing, but the underlying molecular mechanisms have remained unclear. Research in the April 5 BMC Cell Biology—published by a partner with The Scientist—suggests that poor wound healing may be the result of the effect of second-hand smoke on fibroblasts, with the cells showing decreased motility, but increased survival.

“This has the possibility of being a quite important paper,” said Richard Robbins, from the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix. “The concept that smoke increases fibroblast survival is very appealing, since smoke-induced lung injury is a mixture of both injury and repair [fibrosis],” said Robbins, who was not involved in the study.

“It is known that people exposed to cigarette smoke suffer from impaired healing,” said Manuela Martins-Green, from the University of California, Riverside, and senior author of the...

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