Sericin hydrogels promote skin wound healing with effective regeneration of hair follicles and sebaceous glands after complete loss of epidermis and dermis†
Full-thickness skin injury affects millions of people worldwide each year. It often leads to scar formation and loss of skin appendages even after clinical treatment. The majority of wound dressings currently used cannot achieve scarless skin regeneration with complete recovery of appendages such as hair follicles and sebaceous glands. Functional regeneration of these skin appendages is a great challenge. However, we achieved this goal by the successful development and utilization of a photo-crosslinkable sericin hydrogel (SMH) as a new type of wound dressing for repairing full-thickness skin injury. SMH implanted in a mouse full-thickness skin injury model promoted scarless wound healing with effective regeneration of hair follicles and sebaceous glands. By employing techniques of molecular biology, biochemistry, and in vivo cell tracing, we revealed the underlying repair mechanisms: SMH inhibited inflammation, stimulated angiogenesis during healing process, prevented scar tissue formation via regulating the expressions of TGF-β1 and TGF-β3, and recruited mesenchymal stem cells to injury sites for regeneration of skin appendages. Collectively, in this study, we developed a sericin-based hydrogel as a wound dressing for full-thickness skin injury repair, uncovered the functional roles of sericin hydrogels in promoting scarless skin regeneration along with effective recovery of skin appendages, and thus unveiled sericin's potential for skin wound healing.