Functional electrospun fibers for the treatment of human skin wounds

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Wounds are trauma induced defects of the human skin involving a multitude of endogenous biochemical events and cellular reactions of the immune system. The healing process is extremely complex and affected by the patient’s physiological conditions, potential implications like infectious pathogens and inflammation as well as external factors. Due to increasing incidence of chronic wounds and proceeding resistance of infection pathogens, there is a strong need for effective therapeutic wound care.

In this context, electrospun fibers with diameters in the nano- to micrometer range gain increasing interest. While resembling the structure of the native human extracellular matrix, such fiber mats provide physical and mechanical protection (including protection against bacterial invasion). At the same time, the fibers allow for gas exchange and prevent occlusion of the wound bed, thus facilitating wound healing. In addition, drugs can be incorporated within such fiber mats and their release can be adjusted by the material and dimensions of the individual fibers.

The review gives a comprehensive overview about the current state of electrospun fibers for therapeutic application on skin wounds. Different materials as well as fabrication techniques are introduced including approaches for incorporation of drugs into or drug attachment onto the fiber surface. Against the background of wound pathophysiology and established therapy approaches, the therapeutic potential of electrospun fiber systems is discussed. A specific focus is set on interactions of fibers with skin cells/tissues as well as wound pathogens and strategies to modify and control them as key aspects for developing effective wound therapeutics. Further, advantages and limitations of controlled drug delivery from fiber mats to skin wounds are discussed and a future perspective is provided.

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