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The Host-Microbiota Axis in Chronic Wound Healing

Stafford, Amber Rose


Amber Rose Stafford


Angela Oates


Chronic, non-healing skin wounds represent a substantial area of unmet clinical need, leading to debilitating morbidity and mortality in affected individuals. Due to their high prevalence and recurrence, chronic wounds pose a significant economic burden. Wound infection is a major component of healing pathology, with up to 70% of wound-associated lower limb amputations preceded by infection. Despite this, the wound microbiome remains poorly understood. Studies outlined in this thesis aimed to characterise the wound microbiome and explore the complex interactions that occur in the wound environment. Wound samples were analysed using a novel long-read nanopore sequencing-based approach that delivers quantitative species-level taxonomic identification. Clinical wound specimens were collected at both the point of lower-extremity amputation and via a pilot clinical trial evaluating extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) for wound healing. Combining microbial community composition, host tissue transcriptional (RNAseq) profiling, with clinical parameters has provided new insight into healing pathology. Specific commensal and pathogenic organisms appear mechanistically linked to healing, eliciting unique host response signatures. Patient- and site-specific shifts in microbial abundance and community
composition were observed in individuals with chronic wounds versus healthy skin. Transcriptional profiling (RNAseq) of the wound tissue revealed important insight into functional elements of the host-microbe interaction. Finally, ESWT was shown to confer beneficial effects on both cellular and microbial aspects of healing. High-resolution long-read sequencing offers clinically important genomic insights, including rapid wide-spectrum pathogen identification and antimicrobial resistance profiling, which are not possible using current culture-based diagnostic approaches. Thus, data presented in this thesis provides important new insight into complex host-microbe interactions within the wound microbiome, providing new and exciting future avenues for diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to wound management.


Stafford, A. R. (2023). The Host-Microbiota Axis in Chronic Wound Healing. (Thesis). Hull York Medical School. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Oct 25, 2023
Publicly Available Date Oct 25, 2023
Keywords Medicine
Public URL
Additional Information Hull York Medical School,
University of Hull and University of York
Award Date May 1, 2023


Thesis (41.5 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2023 Amber Rose Stafford. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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