Problems with wound healing in the elderly cause significant morbidity, and studies have suggested a marked sex-difference in wound repair, but the mechanisms involved remained elusive. In September 1 Journal of Clinical Investigation Gillian Ashcroft and Stuart Mills from the University of Manchester, UK, show that androgen receptors mediate cutaneous wound healing via a direct effect on macrophage TNF-α production.

Ashcroft & Mills observed that castration of male mice results in accelerated cutaneous wound healing and is associated with a reduced inflammatory response and increased matrix deposition. In addition, they show that the underlying mechanisms involve a direct effect of testosterone on murine macrophage TNF-α production via the androgen receptor (AR) in parallel to the in vivo downregulation of TNF-α following castration or AR antagonism.

"We suggest that systemic or local androgen blockade, possibly in synergistic combination with local estrogen therapy, may be a novel, cost-effective, and safe therapeutic strategy...

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