Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) continues to gain wider acceptance as independent and/or adjunctive treatment for health care. Therapeutic Touch (TT) is one method of CAM healing which is extensively practiced as a nursing intervention and is taught in more than 100 colleges and universities. Some scientific studies suggest that TT can be used successfully to accelerate acute wound healing in humans and animals. These studies would suggest that some alterations in the biology of human fibroblasts must have occurred, as the resident fibroblasts predominantly orchestrate the tissue repair process in acute wounds. Our objective is to study the effects of TT on cultures of human fibroblasts in vitro, and to quantify possible effects of TT on fibroblast behaviors which are central to the process of healing wounds and tissue repair. Our hypothesis is that TT influences the rate of wound healing through alterations in human fibroblast biology and that these alterations can be measured in vitro. To support our hypothesis, we have developed the following Specific Aims.
Specific Aim 1 - To determine the effects of therapeutic touch on human fibroblast migration, proliferation, and collagen synthesis in vitro. We will experimentally ?wound? human fibroblast cultures, and quantitate the effects of TT on the fibroblasts ability to proliferate, synthesize new collagen matrix, and to repair the ?wound? in vitro.
Specific Aim 2 - To determine the effects of therapeutic touch on fibroblast-secreted mediators important in wound healing and inflammation in vitro. We will experimentally ?wound? human fibroblast cultures, and quantitate the effects of TT on their ability to secrete chemotactic factors, selected cytokines and other biological mediators relevant to tissue repair by using ELISA and zymography.
Specific Aim 3 - To determine the effects of therapeutic touch on the expression of human fibroblast cell surface markers important in wound healing and inflammation in vitro. We will use ELISA and flow cytometry to quantitate the effects of TT on fibroblast expression of cell adhesion molecules and will use cell-cell adhesion assays to assess the effects of TT on functional cell-cell interactions important in tissue repair. Our long range objectives are to understand the biologic basis for the effects of TT on wound healing in vitro, and to then utilize these findings to improve wound healing in vivo.
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