N-acetylcysteine-loaded electrospun mats improve wound healing in mice and human fibroblast proliferation in vitro: A potential application of nanotechnology in wound care

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Bushehr University of Medical Sciences, Bushehr, Iran

2 Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Faculty of Health, Bushehr University of Medical Sciences, Bushehr, Iran

3 Department of Chemical Engineering, School of Petroleum, Gas, and Petrochemical Engineering, Persian Gulf University, Bushehr, Iran

4 Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Research Center, Bushehr University of Medical Sciences, Bushehr, Iran


Objective(s): N-acetylcysteine (NAC) has gained attention recently in dermatology as a unique anti-oxidant. In light of progress in nanotechnological methods, it was hypothesized that loading NAC onto nanofibers would positively affect skin wound healing. The objective of this study was to fabricate NAC-loaded electrospun mats and test their effect on wound healing in vivo and in vitro.     
Materials and Methods: Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)-based mats loaded with NAC at three concentrations were electrospun and characterized in terms of physicochemical properties and drug release profile. Human fibroblast cells (in vitro) and mouse full-thickness skin wounds (in vivo) were treated with mats for 5 and 14 days, respectively. Wound area, tissue histopathology, fibroblast proliferation and cellular oxidative state were evaluated.
Results: Mats containing 5% PVA/NAC showed thinner fibers with suitable physicochemical properties and a sustained drug release profile. PVA/NAC (5%) mats enhanced fibroblast proliferation and attachment in vitro. The mats resulted in significant wound closure with high levels of re-epithelialization and collagen fiber synthesis on day 14 post-surgery in vivo. The mats also reduced granulation tissue and edematous stroma to a higher extent. These findings were accompanied by a significant decrease in tissue lipid peroxidation and higher superoxide dismutase activity, which may explain how NAC improved wound healing.
Conclusion: We propose an NAC-loaded nanofibrous mat that takes the advantage of a porous nanoscaffold structure to release NAC in a sustained manner. This mat may be a promising candidate for further clinical evaluation.


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