Enzyme-responsive nanocomposites for wound infection prophylaxis in burn management: In vitro evaluation of their compatibility with healing processes

Verena Grützner, Ronald E. Unger, Grit Baier, Lars Choritz, Christian Freese, Thomas Böse, Katharina Landfester, C. James Kirkpatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Responsive, theranostic nanosystems, capable of both signaling and treating wound infections, is a sophisticated approach to reduce the most common and potentially traumatizing side effects of burn wound treatment: slowed wound healing due to prophylactic anti-infective drug exposure as well as frequent painful dressing changes. Antimicrobials as well as dye molecules have been incorporated into biodegradable nanosystems that release their content only in the presence of pathogens. Following nanocarrier degradation by bacterial enzymes, any infection will thus emit a visible signal and be effectively treated at its source. In this study, we investigated the effect of fluorescent-labeled hyaluronan nanocapsules containing polyhexanide biguanide and poly-L-lactic acid nanoparticles loaded with octenidine on primary human dermal microvascular endothelial cells, which play a major role in cutaneous wound healing. Microscopic and flow cytometric analysis indicated a time-dependent uptake of both the nanocapsules and the nanoparticles. However, enzyme immunoassays showed no significant influence on the expression of pro-inflammatory cell adhesion molecules and cytokines by the endothelial cells. Under angiogenic-stimulating conditions, the potential to form capillary-like structures in co-culture with dermal fibroblasts was not inhibited. Furthermore, cytotoxicity studies (the MTS and crystal violet assay) after short- and long-term exposure to the materials demonstrated that both systems exhibited less toxicity than solutions of the antiseptic agents alone in comparable concentrations. The results indicate that responsive antimicrobial nanocomposites could be used as an advanced drug delivery system and a promising addition to current best practice wound infection prophylaxis with few side effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4111-4124
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Nanomedicine
StatePublished - 24 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Grützner et al.


  • Burn wound infection
  • Endothelial cells
  • Enzyme-responsive nanosystems
  • Wound healing


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