The current strategy for rapid wound healing treatment involves combining a biomaterial and cell-secreted proteins or biomolecules. This study was aimed at characterizing 3-dimensional (3D) collagen hydrogels fortified with dermal fibroblast-conditioned medium (DFCM) as a readily available acellular skin substitute. Confluent fibroblasts were cultured with serum-free keratinocyte-specific medium (KM1 and KM2) and fibroblast-specific medium (FM) to obtain DFCM. Subsequently, the DFCM was mixed with collagen (Col) hydrogel and chondroitin-4-sulphate (C4S) to fabricate 3D constructs termed Col/C4S/DFCM-KM1, Col/C4S/DFCM-KM2, and Col/C4S/DFCM-FM. The constructs successfully formed soft, semi-solid and translucent hydrogels within 1 h of incubation at 37 °C with strength of <2.5 Newton (N). The Col/C4S/DFCM demonstrated significantly lower turbidity compared to the control groups. The Col/C4S/DFCM also showed a lower percentage of porosity (KM1: 35.15 ± 9.76%; KM2: 6.85 ± 1.60%; FM: 14.14 ± 7.65%) compared to the Col (105.14 ± 11.87%) and Col/C4S (143.44 ± 27.72%) constructs. There were no changes in both swelling and degradation among all constructs. Fourier transform infrared spectrometry showed that all groups consisted of oxygen-hydrogen bonds (O-H) and amide I, II, and III. In conclusion, the Col/C4S/DFCM constructs maintain the characteristics of native collagen and can synergistically deliver essential biomolecules for future use in skin therapeutic applications.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.