Genetics play a significant role in the healing process of the body, which affects the formation of scars. Scientists have noted some factors that seem to suggest that genes play a role in the forming of keloid scars, including facts such as that people with darker skin are more at risk than people with fairer skin and that keloid scars seem to run in families. A study out of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit recently identified a gene that seems to play a significant role in the development of keloid scars.
What are Keloid Scars?
Keloid scars are those that are raised, dark, and larger than the original wound. They typically become itchy or painful, and may even continue to grow into a very large and unsightly scar. They can form in any area, although places where the skin stretches are more at risk of keloid scars. Scars formed due to piercings, especially in the ear lobe, are also at a higher risk. Because this type of scar tends to cause more problems than other types of scars, scientists have tried to understand why they form in order to find better ways to prevent and treat them.
The Genetic Link of Keloids
Doctors have tried to discover a reason for the formation of keloid scars, often looking for answers in genetics, especially as it is more common for keloids to form in families and certain skin tones. Previous studies have found that keloids more often form in dark skinned individuals, especially those of African heritage, while albinos have the lowest rates. It has long been recognized that certain cellular signals in change of controlling the growth become altered, which lead to keloid growth. Because genetics controls the cells, including these signals, a common hypothesis is that genes must play a role in the formation. This recent study sheds more light on the subject.
Researchers from Henry Ford Hospital were able to demonstrate for the first time a relationship between an alteration of the AHNAK gene and keloid scars. The AHNAK gene has associations with cell-cell adhesion or exocytosis, which is involved in wound healing. The researchers reviewed normal tissue and keloid tissue for the expression of this gene, and found that three of the five keloid samples had a large reduction in the expression when compared to the normal samples, thus demonstrating a relationship. Although it remains in the early stages, it promises to provide better understanding about keloid scars, including how they form and the function of healing. This study was small, so subsequent research is necessary to provide further information.
Understanding the genetic link involved in the formation of keloid scars can help doctors learn better forms of treatment. Although researchers are still searching for more information, if you have a family history of keloids, then you have a greater risk of developing them yourself. There is a high chance that keloid scars are determined in some extent by your genes, but genetics are never the only factor involved. Lifestyle, environment, and other factors can also affect the healing process, leading to different types of scarring, including keloids.
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