A synthetic BLT2 agonist helped wounds heal faster (bottom) than untreated wounds (top).

Non-aspirin pain relievers may be a better choice for residents with chronic wounds, according to new research.

Japanese researchers looked at the role of a molecule called 12-HHT, which is produced following a skin injury, and its receptor BLT2. They discovered 12-HHT promotes the reformation of the epithelial layer at wound sites, and that high doses of aspirin delayed wound healing by reducing production of 12-HHT. 

They also found there is a synthetic mimic of BLT2 that accelerates wound healing. BLT2 is found on the surface of keratinocytes. When keratinocyte migration across a wound is defective, it slows healing in diabetic ulcers.

Findings appeared in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. The researchers said further work could examine whether combining BLT2 agonists with growth factors can help wounds heal. In a JEM editorial, Yael Gus-Brautbar, Ph.D., of Center for Vascular Biology Research, Harvard Medical School, and Dipak Panigrahy, M.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology at Harvard, said the study should lead providers to use aspirin with caution for patients with wounds. 

The study shows the “first mechanistic insight into the deleterious effect of high-dose aspirin on wound healing,” they wrote. The work also holds promise for diseases that include cancer, atherosclerosis and sepsis, they wrote.