Abnormal pigmentation following cutaneous injury causes significant patient distress and represents a barrier to recovery. Wound depth and patient characteristics influence scar pigmentation. However, we know little about the pathophysiology leading to hyperpigmentation in healed shallow wounds and hypopigmentation in deep dermal wound scars. We sought to determine whether dermal fibroblast signaling influences melanocyte responses.
Epidermal melanocytes from three Caucasians and three African-Americans were genotyped for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across the entire genome. Melanocyte genetic profiles were determined using principal component analysis. We assessed melanocyte phenotype and gene expression in response to dermal fibroblast-conditioned medium and determined potential mesenchymal mediators by proteome profiling the fibroblast-conditioned medium.
Six melanocyte samples demonstrated significant variability in phenotype and gene expression at baseline and in response to fibroblast-conditioned medium. Genetic profiling for SNPs in receptors for 13 identified soluble fibroblast-secreted mediators demonstrated considerable heterogeneity, potentially explaining the variable melanocyte responses to fibroblast-conditioned medium.