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Tissue engineering and regenerative medicines (TERM) in recent times is the most significant interdisciplinary and cross –disciplinary approach combining polymer material science and stem cell regenerative biology to produce cost effective, alternative tissue-engineered grafts for the advancement of skin repair and regeneration processes. The new generation tissue-engineered skin grafts have provided an alternative solution for the large skin wound treatments. In this study, a cost-effective, nanofibrous scaffold was fabricated by blending gelatin with polycaprolactone and electrospun to obtain composite nanofibers. Such fibers were seeded with Wharton jelly Mesenchymal stem cells isolated from the umbilical cord tissue and subsequently evaluated for their wound healing capabilities and safety in a Wistar albino rat excision wound model. Results obtained in the study suggest that the composite nanofibrous scaffold, seeded with Mesenchymal stem cells, considerably accelerated the wound healing process through wound contraction, epithelialization, wound closure, collagen fiber synthesis, and granulation tissue formation and considerably demonstrated the anti-inflammation mechanisms through COX-2 gene expression. The composite nanofibrous scaffold created a complex tri-dimensional arrangement between the cells and the scaffold, providing structural stability; a favourable microenvironment for the Mesenchymal stem cells migration into the wound microenvironment. These cells augmented its cellular functionality in repair and regeneration of the tissue. The PCL/gelatin synergistic combination seeded MSCs, mirrored, at least in part, the natural extracellular matrix and demonstrated exceptional efficacy and safety in our rat model. Hence, our MSC – composite PCL/gelatin scaffold has exhibited considerable potential and therefore can be an excellent candidate for wound healing, as well as a layered dermal reconstitution.
Keywords: epithelisation, mesenchymal stem cells, synthetic scaffold, wound contraction, wound epithelialization