Skin substitutes based on gellan gum with mechanical and penetration compatibility to native human skin

Deepika Malhotra, Ehsan Fattahi, Natalie Germann, Tatiana Flisikowska, Angelika Schnieke, Thomas Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The study reports on a simple system to fabricate skin substitutes consisting of a naturally occurring bacterial polysaccharide gellan gum. Gelation was driven by the addition of a culture medium whose cations induced gellan gum crosslinking at physiological temperature, resulting in hydrogels. Human dermal fibroblasts were incorporated in these hydrogels and their mechanical, morphological, and penetration characteristics were studied. The mechanical properties were determined by means of oscillatory shear rheology, and a short linear viscoelastic regime was noted up to less than 1% of strain amplitude. The storage modulus increased with an increasing polymer concentration. The moduli were in the range noted for native human skin. After 2 weeks of fibroblast cultivation, the storage moduli showed signs of deterioration, so that a culture time of 2 weeks was proposed for further studies. Microscopic and fluorescent staining observations were documented. These depicted a crosslinked network structure in the hydrogels with a homogeneous distribution of cells and an assured cell viability of 2 weeks. H&E staining was also performed, which showed some traces of ECM formation in a few sections. Finally, caffeine penetration experiments were carried out with Franz diffusion cells. The hydrogels with a higher concentration of polymer containing cells showed an improved barrier function against caffeine compared to previously studied multicomponent hydrogels as well as commercially available 3D skin models. Therefore, these hydrogels displayed both mechanical and penetration compatibility with the ex vivo native human skin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1588-1599
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A
Volume111
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Keywords

  • gellan gum
  • human dermal fibroblasts
  • human skin
  • hydrogel
  • penetration properties
  • skin substitutes
  • viscoelasticity

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