December 6, 2023 07:31:19

Promising Hydrogel Enhances Healing of Diabetic Skin Lesions, Research Shows

A recent study delves into the potential of a cost-effective anti-inflammatory hydrogel that could prove beneficial in the treatment of persistent skin lesions commonly observed in diabetic patients.

Researchers have uncovered a low-cost anti-inflammatory hydrogel that holds promise for treating enduring skin lesions, particularly those prevalent among individuals with diabetes.

The findings of animal studies were published in the journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, shedding light on this innovative development.

As per data from the International Diabetes Federation, Brazil stands as the sixth country with the highest number of diabetes cases, marking it as an epidemic and ranking diabetes as the fifth leading cause of death globally.

On a daily basis, approximately 17.7 million Brazilians grapple with metabolic changes arising from reduced insulin secretion and action, which can lead to complications such as nephropathy (kidney damage), neuropathy, and impaired wound healing. It is estimated that one in every five diabetics will develop chronic lesions, including stubborn foot ulcers.

In individuals without diabetes, skin injuries promptly initiate a series of processes that ultimately lead to healing. Platelet aggregation regulates bleeding and provides sites for blood clotting and cell growth. Subsequently, new blood cells are generated, and collagen is deposited. Conversely, in diabetics, high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) contribute to the production of reactive oxygen species, exacerbating inflammation and impairing blood vessel formation.

Biological hydrogels have proven effective in expediting wound healing by maintaining a moist and sterile environment. In this particular study, researchers from Sao Paulo State University (UNESP) and the Federal University of Sao Paulo (UNIFESP) formulated a hydrogel based on annexin A1 (AnxA1), a protein known for its role in regulating inflammation and cell proliferation, as supported by prior research from the same group.

The study’s results indicated that the hydrogel can modulate the wound environment, favoring tissue regeneration.

The hydrogel, which included AnxA12-26 (a peptide synthesized using amino acids 2 through 26), was tested on mice with induced type 1 diabetes and skin lesions created using a biopsy punch.

After three days, a notable reduction in the number of inflammatory cells was observed at the wound sites. By day 14, the wounds had healed completely. In contrast, the control group, consisting of diabetic mice treated with a hydrogel lacking the peptide, experienced prolonged acute wound inflammation beyond the third day.

Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated improved tissue regeneration, characterized by increased keratinocyte proliferation (cells pivotal in skin healing and re-epithelization), reduced macrophage levels (immune cells that temper inflammation, clear cellular debris, and coordinate tissue repair), and heightened levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), fostering the formation of new blood cells.

Cytotoxicity testing confirmed the hydrogel’s excellent biocompatibility and safety for use in the treatment of diabetic wounds.

Sonia Maria Oliani, the last author of the study and a professor at UNESP’s Institute of Biosciences, Letters, and Exact Sciences (IBILCE) and UNIFESP’s Program of Graduate Studies in Functional and Structural Biology, expressed, “Our hydrogel is highly absorbent, providing the right amount of moisture to promote healing, which actually takes place faster than without it. It’s an effective option to expand the therapeutic arsenal for treating diabetic wounds.”