Although there are numerous medical applications to recover damaged skin tissue, scarless wound healing is being extensively investigated to provide a better therapeutic outcome. The exogenous delivery of therapeutic growth factors (GFs) is one of the engineering strategies for skin regeneration. This study presents an exogenous GF delivery platform developed using coacervates (Coa), a tertiary complex of poly (ethylene argininyl aspartate diglyceride) (PEAD) polycation, heparin, and cargo GFs (i.e., transforming growth factor beta 3 (TGF-b3) and interleukin 10 (IL-10)). Coa encompasses the advantage of high biocompatibility, facile preparation, protection of cargo GFs, and sustained GF release. We therefore speculated that coacervate-mediated dual delivery of TGF-b3/IL-10 would exhibit synergistic effects for the reduction of scar formation during physiological wound healing. Our results indicate that the exogenous administration of dual GF via Coa enhances the proliferation and migration of skin related cells. Gene expression profiles using RT-PCR revealed up-regulation of ECM formation at early stage of wound healing and down-regulation of scar-related genes at later stages. Furthermore, direct injection of the dual GF Coa into the edges of damaged skin in a rat skin wound defect model demonstrated accelerated wound closure and skin regeneration after 3 weeks. Histological evaluation and immunohistochemical staining also revealed enhanced formation of the epidermal layer along with facilitated angiogenesis following dual GF Coa delivery. Based on these results, we conclude that polycation-mediated Coa fabrication and exogenous dual GF delivery via the Coa platform effectively augments both the quantity and quality of regenerated skin tissues without scar formation.
Keywords Coacervate, Skin tissue engineering, Growth factor delivery, Scarless wound healing, Skin regeneration, Drug delivery system,