Bioresponsive dextrin-rhEGF conjugates: in vitro evaluation in models relevant to its proposed use as a treatment for chronic wounds

Mol Pharm. 2010 Jun 7;7(3):699-707. doi: 10.1021/mp9002656.


We recently developed a bioresponsive dextrin-recombinant human epidermal growth factor (rhEGF) conjugate as a polymer therapeutic with potential for use in the promotion of tissue repair. The aim of these studies was to use patient-derived wound fluid and fibroblasts to evaluate its potential for further development as a treatment for chronic wounds, such as venous leg ulceration, a growing clinical challenge in the aging population. First, the levels of EGF (ELISA assay), alpha-amylase and elastase (enzyme assays) were measured in patient-derived acute and chronic wound fluid. EGF was detected in acute, but not in chronic wound fluid. alpha-Amylase concentrations were higher in acute (188 IU/L), compared to chronic wound fluid (52 IU/L), but both were in the range of human serum levels. Although elastase was present in chronic wound fluid (2.1 +/- 1.2 RFU/min), none was detected in acute wound fluid. Dextrin-rhEGF incubation in chronic wound fluid led to endogenous alpha-amylase-mediated release of rhEGF (ELISA) that was maximal at 48 h. When the migration of HaCaT keratinocytes and of human fibroblasts (isolated from patient-matched, normal skin and chronic dermal wounds) was studied in vitro using the scratch wound assay, enhanced cell migration was observed in response to both free rhEGF and alpha-amylase-activated dextrin-rhEGF conjugate compared to controls. In addition, fibroblasts displayed increased proliferation (normal dermal fibroblasts approximately 160%; chronic wound fibroblasts approximately 140%) following incubation (72 h) with dextrin-rhEGF that had been exposed to physiological levels of alpha-amylase (93 IU/L). These results suggest further preclinical in vivo evaluation of dextrin-rhEGF is warranted to determine whether conjugate pharmacokinetics and rhEGF liberation into such a complex and aggressive environment can still lead to bioactivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dextrins / chemistry*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / chemistry
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / pharmacology
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*
  • alpha-Amylases / metabolism*


  • Dextrins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • alpha-Amylases