Differences between adult and foetal fibroblasts in the regulation of hyaluronate synthesis: correlation with migratory activity

W Y Chen, M E Grant, A M Schor, S L Schor

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We have previously reported that confluent foetal fibroblasts migrate into three-dimensional collagen gel matrices to a significantly greater extent than do adult cells. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a major constituent of the extracellular matrix deposited by fibroblasts and has been demonstrated to stimulate the migration of a number of different cell types. Previous studies have indicated that the synthesis of HA by normal adult skin fibroblasts declines significantly when the cells achieve confluence. Data presented in this paper indicate that foetal fibroblasts differ from adult cells in this respect, in that they do not show an inverse relationship between cell density and HA synthesis, i.e. confluent foetal fibroblasts continue to produce approximately the same amount of HA as do subconfluent cells. These data suggest that the synthesis of relatively high levels of HA by foetal fibroblasts at confluence may be causally related to the elevated migration displayed by these cells. In this context, a close correlation was observed between the level of HA synthesized by confluent foetal and adult fibroblasts and the differential migratory activity displayed by these cells. Such differences in HA synthesis and migratory behaviour were only apparent at cell confluence, with subconfluent foetal and adult fibroblasts being indistinguishable in terms of these two criteria. Our data further reveal that: (1) cell density affects the size class of HA synthesized by both foetal and adult cells; and that (2) there is a considerable degree of heterogeneity amongst the nine different fibroblast lines examined in this study in terms of the size class of HA that they produce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-84
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1989


  • Adult
  • Aging/metabolism
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Movement/physiology
  • Cytokines/metabolism
  • Fetus/cytology
  • Fibroblasts/cytology
  • Fibronectins
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronic Acid/metabolism


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