Multiple evidence in animal models and in humans suggest a beneficial role of cold physical plasma in wound treatment. Yet, risk assessment studies are important to further foster therapeutic advancement and acceptance of cold plasma in clinics. Accordingly, we investigated the longterm side effects of repetitive plasma treatment over 14 consecutive days in a rodent full-thickness ear wound model. Subsequently, animals were housed for 350 days and sacrificed thereafter. In blood, systemic changes of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin 1β and tumor necrosis factor α were absent. Similarly, tumor marker levels of α-fetoprotein and calcitonin remained unchanged. Using quantitative PCR, the expression levels of several cytokines and tumor markers in liver, lung, and skin were found to be similar in the control and treatment group as well. Likewise, histological and immunohistochemical analysis failed to detect abnormal morphological changes and the presence of tumor markers such as carcinoembryonic antigen, α-fetoprotein, or the neighbor of Punc11. Absence of neoplastic lesions was confirmed by non-invasive imaging methods such as anatomical magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography-computed tomography. Our results suggest that the beneficial effects of cold plasma in wound healing come without apparent side effects including tumor formation or chronic inflammation.
Keywords: SKH1 mouse model; dermal full-thickness wounds; kINPen plasma jet; plasma medicine; reactive oxygen and nitrogen species; risk evaluation.