Biopolymer chitosan (beta-1,4-d-glucosamine) comprises the copolymer mixture of N-acetylglucosamine and glucosamine. The natural biocompatibility and biodegradability of chitosan have recently highlighted its potential use for applications in wound management. Chemical and physical modifications of chitosan influence its biocompatibility and biodegradability, but it is unknown as to what degree. Hence, the biocompatibility of the chitosan porous skin regenerating templates (PSRT 82, 87 and 108) was determined using an in vitro toxicology model at the cellular and molecular level on primary normal human epidermal keratinocytes (pNHEK). Cytocompatibility was accessed by using a 3-[4,5-dimethyl-2-thiazolyl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay from 24 to 72h. To assess the genotoxicity of the PSRTs, DNA damage to the pNHEK was evaluated by using the Comet assay following direct contact with the various PSRTs. Furthermore, the skin pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-8 were examined to evaluate the tendency of the PSRTs to provoke inflammatory responses. All PSRTs were found to be cytocompatible, but only PSRT 108 was capable of stimulating cell proliferation. While all of the PSRTs showed some DNA damage, PSRT 108 showed the least DNA damage followed by PSRT 87 and 82. PSRT 87 and 82 induced a higher secretion of TNF-alpha and IL-8 in the pNHEK cultures than did PSRT 108. Hence, based on our experiments, PSRT 108 is the most biocompatible wound dressing of the three tested.
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