Effect of polysaccharides from Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) cladodes on the healing of dermal wounds in the rat

Phytomedicine. 2006 May;13(5):352-8. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2005.06.006. Epub 2005 Sep 13.


In traditional medicine extracts of polysaccharide-containing plants are widely employed for the treatment of skin and epithelium wounds and of mucous membrane irritation. The extracts of Opuntia ficus-indica cladodes are used in folk medicine for their antiulcer and wound-healing activities. The present study describes the wound-healing potential of two lyophilized polysaccharide extracts obtained from O. ficus-indica (L.) cladodes applied on large full-thickness wounds in the rat. When topically applied for 6 days, polysaccharides with a molecular weight (MW)>10(4)Da from O. ficus-indica cladodes induce a beneficial effect on cutaneous repair in this experimental model; in particular the topical application of O. ficus-indica extracts on skin lesions accelerates the reepithelization and remodelling phases, also by affecting cell-matrix interactions and by modulating laminin deposition. Furthermore, the wound-healing effect is more marked for polysaccharides with a MW ranging 10(4)-10(6)Da than for those with MW>10(6)Da, leading us to suppose that the fine structure of these polysaccharides and thus their particular hygroscopic, rheologic and viscoelastic properties may be essential for the wound-healing promoter activity observed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hyaluronic Acid / pharmacology
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Laminin / drug effects*
  • Laminin / metabolism
  • Male
  • Opuntia / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Stems / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / injuries*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*


  • Laminin
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polysaccharides
  • Hyaluronic Acid