Objective: To investigate the effects of topical application of emu oil on wound healing in scalded rats.
Methods: In 144 male Wistar rats with 10%; total body surface superficial II degree scald treated on a random basis with physiological saline, povidone iodine and emu oil, respectively, the changes of the wound were observed and the wound tissue and blood samples harvested at different times after injury for evaluation of histopathological changes, total tissue water content (measured by wet:dry weight ratios), and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha levels in the wound tissue and plasma by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The general condition of the wound healing was also observed.
Results: After application of emu oil, the swelling and effusion of the burn wound were alleviated and evidences of wound infection or adverse effects were not observed. Pathological examination showed that emu oil could alleviate topical inflammation, which was particularly obvious on days 1 and 3 after injury as compared with the other two groups. On day 3 after injury, water content and TNF-alpha level in the tissues was markedly decreased with the application of emu oil (P<0.05), with a significant correlation between their changes (P<0.001) and shortened wound healing time (P<0.05). Pathological examination showed that emu oil could promote epithelialization and differentiation of various epidermal layers.
Conclusion: Emu oil has topical anti-inflammatory activity in rats with superficial II degree scald, possibly in association with decreased levels of the proinflammatory cytokines in the tissues and can promote wound healing by inhibiting local secondary inflammation.