Dual effects of atmospheric pressure plasma jet on skin wound healing of mice
Cold plasma has become an attractive tool for promoting wound healing and treating skin diseases. This article presents an atmospheric pressure plasma jet (APPJ) generated in argon gas through dielectric barrier discharge, which was applied to superficial skin wounds in BALB/c mice. The mice (n = 50) were assigned randomly into five groups (named A, B, C, D, E) with 10 animals in each group. Natural wound healing was compared with stimulated wound healing treated daily with APPJ for different time spans (10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 seconds) on 14 consecutive days. APPJ emission spectra, morphological changes in animal wounds, and tissue histological parameters were analyzed. Statistical results revealed that wound size changed over the duration of the experimental period and there was a significant interaction between experimental day and group. Differences between group C and other groups at day 7 were statistically significant (p < 0.05). All groups had nearly achieved closure of the untreated control wounds at day 14. The wounds treated with APPJ for 10, 20, 30, and 40 seconds showed significantly enhanced daily improvement compared with the control and almost complete closure at day 12, 10, 7, and 13, respectively. The optimal results of epidermal cell regeneration, granulation tissue hyperplasia, and collagen deposition in histological aspect were observed at day 7. However, the wounds treated for 50 seconds were less well healed at day 14 than those of the control. It was concluded that appropriate doses of cold plasma could inactivate bacteria around the wound, activate fibroblast proliferation in wound tissue, and eventually promote wound healing. Whereas, over doses of plasma suppressed wound healing due to causing cell death by apoptosis or necrosis. Both positive and negative effects may be related to the existence of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS and RNS) in APPJ.