Nanofibrillated Cellulose for Skin Substitutes

Koivunotko, E. (2024)


"Skin wound healing is a multistep process that is activated right after an injury and can be divided into four partly overlapping phases: hemostasis, inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling. Owing to the intricate nature of this process, its balance can easily be disrupted, and requires wound treatment. Currently used wound care materials are aimed to be biocompatible, biodegradable, and immunomodulatory to play a bioactive role in the wound healing phases. Tissue engineering has led to the development of various non-surgical skin substitutes comprised, for example, of extracellular matrix-mimicking scaffolds, cells, and growth factors to resemble the skin and regenerate the injured site.

However, skin substitutes have faced challenges, especially in sufficient neovascularization, prevention of scarring, and the risks of host reaction or disease transfer due to their animal-based origin. To develop new alternative biomaterials, this study aimed to evaluate the potential of plant-based nanofibrillated cellulose (NFC) hydrogel for skin substitute applications in cutaneous wound healing and angiogenesis.

The publications of this thesis focused on the effects of NFC hydrogel on cells and bioactive factors, such as growth factors, taking part in wound healing and angiogenesis. In addition, the modifiability of the mechanical properties of NFC hydrogel was evaluated on three-dimensional (3D) cell culturing and carrying of bioactive compounds by freeze-drying or degrading NFC formulations with cellulase. The research showed NFC hydrogel to enhance wound healing and induce angiogenesis after bioactive compounds were released from degraded NFC hydrogel. In addition, the 3D environment provided by NFC hydrogel was suitable for vascular-like cell organization and production of angiogenic compounds. This 3D environment could also be modified to be ideal for different cell lines by diluting freeze-dried NFC to hydrogel resembling different tissue-specific mechanical stiffnesses. In conclusion, this thesis demonstrates the potential of NFC hydrogel for future skin substitute applications with biocompatible and degradable properties, as well as versatile fabrication opportunities."


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Koivunotko, E. (2024). "Nanofibrillated Cellulose for Skin Substitutes" Helsingin yliopisto; Helsingfors universitet; University of Helsinki