Nanoparticles (NPs) are small entities that consist of a hydroxyapatite core, which can bind ions, proteins, and other organic molecules from the surrounding environment. These small conglomerations can influence environmental calcium levels and have the potential to modulate calcium homeostasis in vivo. Nanoparticles have been associated with various calcium-mediated disease processes, such as atherosclerosis and kidney stone formation. We hypothesized that nanoparticles could have an effect on other calcium-regulated processes, such as wound healing. In the present study, we synthesized pH-sensitive calcium-based nanoparticles and investigated their ability to enhance cutaneous wound repair.
Different populations of nanoparticles were synthesized on collagen-coated plates under various growth conditions. Bilateral dorsal cutaneous wounds were made on 8-week-old female Balb/c mice. Nanoparticles were then either administered intravenously or applied topically to the wound bed. The rate of wound closure was quantified. Intravenously injected nanoparticles were tracked using a FLAG detection system. The effect of nanoparticles on fibroblast contraction and proliferation was assessed.
A population of pH-sensitive calcium-based nanoparticles was identified. When intravenously administered, these nanoparticles acutely increased the rate of wound healing. Intravenously administered nanoparticles were localized to the wound site, as evidenced by FLAG staining. Nanoparticles increased fibroblast calcium uptake in vitro and caused contracture of a fibroblast populated collagen lattice in a dose-dependent manner. Nanoparticles also increased the rate of fibroblast proliferation.
Intravenously administered, calcium-based nanoparticles can acutely decrease open wound size via contracture. We hypothesize that their contraction effect is mediated by the release of ionized calcium into the wound bed, which occurs when the pH-sensitive nanoparticles disintegrate in the acidic wound microenvironment. This is the first study to demonstrate that calcium-based nanoparticles can have a therapeutic benefit, which has important implications for the treatment of wounds.