Identification of neutraphil elastase as the proteinase in burn wound fluid responsible for degradation of fibronectin

Frederick Grinnell, Meifang Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


To identify proteinases responsible for fibronectin degradation in the wound environment we studied wound fluid obtained from burn patients. Immunoblotting experiments showed that extensive degradation of fibronectin had occurred in some burn wound fluid samples, in which case intact fibronectin molecules were undetectable, and the largest fibronectin fragment was 116 kDa. The 116-kDa fragment as well as a smaller 90-kDa fragment contained the fibronectin cell binding domain. These burn-fluid samples degraded freshly added fibronectin. Activity of the fibronectin-degrading enzyme was blocked by a broad-spectrum serine proteinase inhibitor or by specific neutrophil elastase inhibitors but not by metalloproteinase inhibitors or inhibitors of trypsin-like or chymotrypsin-like serine proteinases. Enzyme activity also was neutralized by antibodies against human neutrophil elastase. Incubation of fibronectin with burn wound fluid or purified human neutrophil elastase generated similar fibronectin-degradation products. Finally, direct assay of burn-wound-fluid samples with a synthetic elastase substrate showed a correlation between fluid-phase elastase activity and fibronectin degradation. Based on these findings, we conclude that burn-wound-fluid elastase is responsible for extensive fibronectin degradation. Acute elevation of elastase did not appear to hinder normal wound repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-161
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1994


  • metalloproteinase
  • serine proteinase
  • wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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