January 27, 2016

Wound-healing scaffolds

The elasticity of a scaffold used for healing skin wounds is a key factor in promoting regeneration versus scarring.

Scaffolds – biologic or synthetic “supports” – offer a promising approach for improving skin wound healing. Increasing evidence suggests that the mechanical properties of scaffolds influence wound healing.

Scott Guelcher, Ph.D., and colleagues explored how the elasticity of a scaffold influences wound repair and scar formation. They designed and tested poly(ester urethane) scaffolds with three different elasticity measures relative to native collagen fiber – less rigid, comparable and more rigid – in a rat subcutaneous implant model.

They reported in the December issue of Biomaterials that wounds treated with scaffolds with an elasticity measure comparable to collagen had maximal angiogenesis, cellular infiltration and collagen deposition. This enhanced regenerative response correlated with reduced scar-related Wnt signaling in fibroblasts and with a shift toward macrophages that have restorative rather than inflammatory characteristics.

The findings confirm that scaffold elasticity is a key parameter regulating tissue regeneration versus scarring and suggest using scaffolds with elasticity that mimics the native matrix to improve skin wound healing.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants AR056138, CA163499) and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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