Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
The new era of pharmacogenetics has identified a potential for individuals to receive customized treatments for a variety of disease states. For such individualized treatments to fulfil their potential, it will be essential for clinicians to be able to monitor disease activity, ideally in a rapid, noninvasive fashion. The accessibility of the skin offers much potential to develop noninvasive tests of metabolic and disease activity for clinical use. Impaired human wound healing in the skin is a chronic inflammatory disorder in which the development of such tests has considerable potential, aiding clinical decision making and monitoring responses to treatment. This review article discusses how studies in other human diseases have highlighted potential biochemical markers (biomarkers) of disease activity in secreted biofluids, as aids to determining disease and metabolic activity within tissues. Using, as examples, lessons learned in the study of disease activity and prognosis of other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as osteoarthritis and periodontal disease, this review highlights the potential of dermal extracellular matrix (ECM) components (collagens, proteoglycans, hyaluronan and glycoproteins) for such uses. The limitations of currently utilized techniques and the concept that analysis of ECM components in wound fluid may represent useful biomarkers of disease activity are also discussed.
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