Evaluation of ultra-thin poly(epsilon-caprolactone) films for tissue-engineered skin.
Various natural and synthetic polymeric materials have been used as scaffold matrices for tissue-engineered skin. However, the commercially available skin replacement products pose problems of poor mechanical properties and immunological rejection. We have thus developed a film of 5 microm thickness, via biaxial stretching of poly(epsilon-caprolactone) (PCL), as a potential matrix for living skin replacements. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of using biaxially stretched PCL films as matrices for culturing human dermal fibroblasts. For this purpose, we cultured human dermal fibroblasts for 7 days on the films. Glass cover slips and polyurethane (PU) sheets were used as controls. The data from phase contrast light, confocal laser, and scanning electron microscopy suggested that biaxially stretched PCL films support the attachment and proliferation of human dermal fibroblasts. Thymidine-labeling results showed quantitatively that cell proliferation on the PCL films was superior to that on the PU samples. These results indicated that biaxially stretched PCL films supported the growth of human dermal fibroblasts and might have potential to be applied in tissue engineering a dermal equivalent or skin graft.