Nanofeatured silk fibroin membranes for dermal wound healing applications



As an effort to create the next generation of improved skin graft materials, in this study, we modified the surfaces of a previously investigated material, silk fibroin, using a NaOH alkaline treatment to obtain a biologically inspired nanofeatured surface morphology. Such surfaces were characterized for roughness, energy, and chemistry. In addition, keratinocyte (skin-forming cells) adhesion and proliferation on such nanofeatured silk fibroin wound dressings were studied in an initial attempt to determine the promotion of an epidermal cover on the wound bed to form a new epidermal barrier. Dermal fibroblast adhesion and proliferation were also studied to assess the ability of nanostructured silk fibroin to replace damaged dermal tissue in chronic wounds (i.e., for diabetic foot ulcers). Results demonstrated for the first time that keratinocyte and fibroblast cell density was greater on nanofeatured silk fibroin membranes compared with non-treated silk fibroin surfaces. The enhancement in cellular functions was correlated with an increase in silk surface nanotopography, wettability and change in chemistry after NaOH treatment. Due to the present promising results, the newly developed nanofeatured silk fibroin membranes are exciting alternative skin graft materials which should be further studied for various skin patch and wound dressing applications. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 103A: 135–144, 2015.