Tissue engineering of co-cultured skin substitutes using biocomposite membranes based on collagen and polycaprolactone
The preparation and characterisation of collagen: PCL, gelatin: PCL and gelatin/collagen:PCL biocomposites for manufacture of tissue engineered skin substitutes are reported. Films of collagen: PLC, gelatin: PCL (1:4, 1:8 and 1:20 w/w) and gelatin/collagen:PCL (1:8 and 1:20 w/w) biocomposites were prepared by impregnation of lyophilised collagen and/or gelatin mats by PCL solutions followed by solvent evaporation. In vitro assays of total protein release of collagen:PCL and gelatin: PCL biocomposite films revealed an expected inverse relationship between the collagen release rate and the content of synthetic polymer in the biocomposite samples that may be exploited for controlled presentation and release of biopharmaceuticals such as growth factors. Good compatibility of all biocomposite groups was proven by interaction with 3T3 fibroblasts, normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEK), and primary human epidermal keratinocytes (PHEK) and dermal fibroblasts (PHDF) in vitro respectively. The 1:20 collagen: PCL materials exhibiting good cell growth curves and mechanical characteristics were selected for engineering of skin substitutes in this work. The tissue-engineered skin model based on single-donor PHEK and PHDF with differentiated confluent epidermal layer and fibrous porous dermal layer was then developed successfully in vitro proven by SEM and immunohistochemistry assay. The following in vivo animal study on athymic mice revealed early complete wound healing in 10 days and good integration of co-cultured skin substitutes with adjacent mice skin structures. Thus the co-cultured skin substitutes based on 1:20 collagen: PCL biocomposite membranes was proven in principle. The approach to skin modelling reported here may find application in wound treatment, gene therapy and screening of new pharmaceuticals.