Bilayered nanofibrous 3D hierarchy as skin rudiment by emulsion electrospinning for burn wound management†
Mimicking skin extracellular matrix hierarchy, the present work aims to develop a bilayer skin graft comprising a porous cotton-wool-like 3D layer with membranous structure of PCL–chitosan nanofibers. Emulsion electrospinning with differential stirring periods of PCL–chitosan emulsion results in development of a bilayer 3D structure with varied morphology. The electrospun membrane has fiber diameter ∼274 nm and pore size ∼1.16 μm while fluffy 3D layer has fiber diameter ∼1.62 μm and pore size ∼62 μm. The 3D layer was further coated with collagen I isolated from Cirrhinus cirrhosus fish scales to improve biofunctionality. Surface coating with collagen I resulted in bundling the fibers together, thereby increasing their average diameter to 2.80 μm and decreasing pore size to ∼45 μm. The architecture and composition of the scaffold promotes efficient cellular activity where interconnected porosity with ECM resembling collagen I coating assists cellular adhesion, infiltration, and proliferation from initial days of fibroblast seeding, while keratinocytes migrate on the surface only without infiltrating in the membranous nanofiber layer. Anatomy of the scaffold arising due to variation in pore size distribution at different layers thereby facilitates compartmentalization and prevents initial cellular transmigration. The scaffold also assists in extracellular matrix protein synthesis and keratinocyte stratification in vitro. Further, the scaffold effectively integrates and attaches with third-degree burn wound margins created in rat models and accelerates healing in comparison to standard Tegaderm dressing™. The bilayer scaffold is thus a promising, readily available, cost-effective, off-the-shelf matrix as a skin substitute.