Blueberries may hold the key to treating hard to heal wounds

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Could blueberries help create the next generation wound-healing topical creams? A recent study has found that an extract in the fruit can increase regeneration in hard to heal wounds.

Researchers from the University of Maine say the superfood helps blood vessels grow and cells migrate, both processes which are key to healing wounds. The team treated wounds on a group of mice with a phenolic extract from wild blueberries, producing promising results.

Phenols are natural compounds in some foods that act as antioxidants to prevent or reverse some forms of cell damage. Researchers say it could be particularly useful in helping to heal chronic wounds. These include burns, diabetes-related sores, and pressure ulcers. Doctors often categorize these injuries as “nonhealing” due to the reduced vascularization or development of nutrient-rich blood vessels.

The researchers had previously shown that the extract improved vascularization and cell migration, critical steps in the healing process, in human umbilical cord cells. They presented their latest research on live wounds in Philadelphia at the American Physiological Society’s (APS) annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2022.

Closing wounds significantly faster

Compared to animals treated with a base gel that did not contain the phenolic extract and a control group that received no treatment, the group treated with the blueberry extract showed improved migration of endothelial cells to the wound site. They also experienced a 12 percent increase in wound closure.

“Wild blueberries have the potential to enhance cell migration, new blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) and vascularization and to speed up wound closure. This is especially important in conditions that require enhanced wound closure in patients with chronic wounds such as diabetic wounds, burns and pressure ulcers,” says first author of the study and doctoral student Tolu Esther Adekeye in a media release.

High in antioxidants, blueberries were the first fruit to be declared a superfruit. They may also help prevent heart disease, regulate sugar in the blood, improve vision, and soothe stomach discomfort.

South West News Service writer Jim Leffman contributed to this report.

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