New “nanofiber” wound dressings that contain vitamin D hold promise for reducing the risk of surgical site infections (SSIs), according to US researchers.
They said the vitamin-loaded dressings had been shown to spur the production of an antimicrobial peptide, which they described as a key step forward in the battle against SSIs.
“They provide several functional and structural advantages, including scar-free healing”
Their findings, published this week in the journal Nanomedicine, are important, noted the researchers, because SSIs are the most common healthcare-associated infection. They described their findings as a “step forward to improving wound healing”.
The researchers used a technique called electrospinning to prepare dressings containing the bioactive form of vitamin D – known as 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, or 1,25(OH)2D3.
A so-called nanofibre is a very fine fibre with a diameter of 100 nanometres or less, which are increasingly being tested out for tissue engineering, drug delivery, and cancer diagnosis.
The dressings the researchers created proved capable of delivering vitamin D on a sustained basis over four weeks.
They significantly induced production of a peptide, hCAP18/LL37, that kills microbes by disrupting their membranes, said the team.
Because the dressings work by enhancing innate immune responses rather than by containing conventional, single-target antimicrobial compounds, they are less likely to contribute to drug resistance, noted the researchers.
The dressings were tested on human skin – collected from plastic surgery patients – in a culture dish, as well as in vitro with keratinocyte and monocyte cell lines, and in vivo in a mouse model.
Study author Adrian Gombart, from the Oregon State University, said: “Electrospun nanofibre wound dressings offer significant advantages over hydrogels or sponges for local drug delivery.
“They provide several functional and structural advantages, including scar-free healing,” he said.
Study co-author Arup Indra, associate professor of pharmacy at Oregon, said: “This study was proof of principle. It looks like we can induce the genes in a model system and now we can start looking at healing and infection.”