The sequence of incorporation and utilization of tritium-labeled proline has been examined in healing wounds from normal and scorbutic guinea pigs. Linear incisions in the skin of the animals were allowed to heal for 7 days. Each animal was given proline-H3, and the wounds were excised 30 minutes, 1 and 4 hours, 1, 3 and 7 days after proline administration. The tissues were fixed in osmium tetroxide, fixed again in neutral buffered formalin, embedded in epoxy resin, and sectioned at 1 micron thickness. The sections were coated with nuclear track emulsion, exposed, developed, and stained. The results of grain counts were quantitated as the number of counts per unit area overlying cells, fibers, etc. In both groups the proline reaches a maximum over the fibroblasts within 4 hours and subsequently disappears from the cells. Concomitantly, the proline reaches a maximum over the collagen (in normal animals) and extracellular fibrillar material (in scorbutic animals) by 4 hours, where it remains. The modified technique of radioautography used in this study allows not only resolution of approximately 1 micron, but also minimal background, decreased artifact, and a clear separation of the randomly situated elements within the wounds so that grain counting is facilitated. The results correlated with previous electron microscopic studies are consistent with the utilization of proline by the fibroblasts and its incorporation into collagen (in normal animals) and into the extracellular, fibrillar, non-collagenous material seen in scorbutic animals.

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