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Cell infiltrative hydrogel fibrous scaffolds for accelerated wound healing


Development of natural protein-based fibrous scaffolds with tunable physical properties and biocompatibility is highly desirable to construct three-dimensional (3D), fully cellularized scaffolds for wound healing. Herein, we demonstrated a simple and effective technique to construct electrospun 3D fibrous scaffolds for accelerated wound healing using a photocrosslinkable hydrogel based on gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA). We found that the physical properties of the photocrosslinkable hydrogel including water retention, stiffness, strength, elasticity and degradation can be tailored by changing the light exposure time. We further observed that the optimized hydrogel fibrous scaffolds which were soft and elastic could support cell adhesion, proliferation and migration into the whole scaffolds, facilitating regeneration and formation of cutaneous tissues within two weeks. Such tunable characteristics of the fibrous GelMA scaffolds distinguished them from other reported substrates developed for reconstruction of wound defects including glutaraldehyde-crosslinked gelatin or poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), whose physical and chemical properties were difficult to modify to allow cell infiltration into the 3D scaffolds for tissue regeneration. We anticipate that the ability to become fully cellularized will make the engineered GelMA fibrous scaffolds suitable for widespread applications as skin substitutes or wound dressings.

Statement of significance

In present study, we generate three-dimensional photocrosslinkable gelatin (GelMA)-based fibrous scaffolds with tunable physical and biological properties by using a combined photocrosslinking/electrospinning approach. The developed GelMA fibrous scaffolds can not only support cell viability and cell adhesion, but also facilitate cell migration and proliferation, accelerating regeneration and formation of cutaneous tissues. In addition, the physical properties of the engineered fibrous GelMA hydrogel including water retention capability, mechanical properties and biodegradability can be tuned to accommodate different patients' needs, making it a promising candidate for skin tissue engineering.

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