Up to a certain developmental stage, a fetus can completely regenerate wounds in the skin. To clarify the mechanism of fetal skin regeneration, identifying when the skin switches from fetal-type wound regeneration to adult-type wound repair is necessary. We hypothesized that this switch occurs at several time points and that complete skin regeneration requires epidermal–dermal interactions and the formation of actin cables. We compared normal skin and wound morphology at each developmental stage. We examined two parameters: epidermal texture and dermal structure. We found that the three-dimensional structure of the skin was completely regenerated in full-thickness skin incisions made before embryonic day (E) 13. However, the skin texture did not regenerate in wounds made after E14. We also found that the dermal structure regenerates up to E16, but wounds created after E17 heal as scars with dermal fibrosis. By controlling the activity of AMP-activated protein kinase and altering actin cable formation, we could regulate scar formation in utero. These findings may contribute to therapies that allow complete skin regeneration without scarring.
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