Supplementary Material for: Extracorporal Shock Waves Activate Migration, Proliferation and Inflammatory Pathways in Fibroblasts and Keratinocytes, and Improve Wound Healing in an Open-Label, Single-Arm Study in Patients with Therapy-Refractory Chronic Leg Ulcers

Background/Aims: Chronic leg ulcers (CLUs) are globally a major cause of morbidity and mortality with increasing prevalence. Their treatment is highly challenging, and many conservative, surgical or advanced therapies have been suggested, but with little overall efficacy. Since the 1980s extracorporal shock wave therapy (ESWT) has gained interest as treatment for specific indications. Here, we report that patients with CLU showed wound healing after ESWT and investigated the underlying molecular mechanisms. Methods: We performed cell proliferation and migration assays, FACS- and Western blot analyses, RT-PCR, and Affymetrix gene expression analyses on human keratinocytes and fibroblasts, and a tube formation assay on human microvascular endothelial cells to assess the impact of shock waves in vitroIn vivo, chronic therapy-refractory leg ulcers were treated with ESWT, and wound healing was assessed. Results: Upon ESWT, we observed morphological changes and increased cell migration of keratinocytes. Cell-cycle regulatory genes were upregulated, and proliferation induced in fibroblasts. This was accompanied by secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines from keratinocytes, which are known to drive wound healing, and a pro-angiogenic activity of endothelial cells. These observations were transferred “from bench to bedside”, and 60 consecutive patients with 75 CLUs with different pathophysiologies (e.g. venous, mixed arterial-venous, arterial) were treated with ESWT. In this setting, 41% of ESWT-treated CLUs showed complete healing, 16% significant improvement, 35% improvement, and 8% of the ulcers did not respond to ESWT. The induction of healing was independent of patient age, duration or size of the ulcer, and the underlying pathophysiology. Conclusions: The efficacy of ESWT needs to be confirmed in controlled trials to implement ESWT as an adjunct to standard therapy or as a stand-alone treatment. Our results suggest that EWST may advance the treatment of chronic, therapy-refractory ulcers.