ACS BIOMATERIALS SCIENCE & ENGINEERING, vol.2, no.7, pp.1180-1189, 2016 (SCI-Expanded)
Low expressions of angiogenic growth factors delay the healing of diabetic wounds by interfering with the process of blood vessel formation. Heparin mimetic peptide nanofibers can bind to and enhance production and activity of major angiogenic growth factors, including VEGF. In this study, we showed that heparin mimetic peptide nanofibers can serve as angiogenic scaffolds that allow slow release of growth factors and protect them from degradation, providing a new therapeutic way to accelerate healing of diabetic wounds. We treated wounds in STZ-induced diabetic rats with heparin mimetic peptide nanofibers and studied repair of full-thickness diabetic skin wounds. Wound recovery was quantified by analyses of re-epithelialization, granulation tissue formation and blood vessel density, as well as VEGF and inflammatory response measurements. Wound closure and granulation tissue formation were found to be significantly accelerated in heparin mimetic gel treated groups. In addition, blood vessel counts and the expressions of alpha smooth muscle actin and VEGF were significantly higher in bioactive gel treated animals. These results strongly suggest that angiogenic heparin mimetic nanofiber therapy can be used to support the impaired healing process in diabetic wounds.