Angiogenic and wound healing potency of fermented virgin coconut oil: in vitro and in vivo studies

Am J Transl Res. 2017 Nov 15;9(11):4936-4944. eCollection 2017.


Objective: The process of wound healing involves activation of keratinocytes, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, etc. Angiogenesis is crucial during the process of wound healing. Virgin coconut oil is widely utilized in South Asia for various purposes including food, medicinal and industrial applications. This study aimed to evaluate the potency of fermented virgin coconut oil (FVCO) in angiogenesis and wound healing via both in vitro and in vivo assays.

Methods: Human umbilical vein endothelial (HUVEC), fibroblast (CCD-18) and retinal ganglion (RGC-5) cells were cultured in medium containing different concentrations of FVCO. The proliferation, migration and morphological changes of cells were determined. The angiogenic effect of FVCO was evaluated by rat aortic assay. The therapeutic effect of FVCO on wound healing was further assessed in a wound excision model in Sprague Dawley rats. The expression of phospho-VEGFR2 (vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2) in HUVECs was detected by Western blot.

Results: FVCO (6 and 12 µg/mL) significantly improved the proliferation of HUVEC, CCD-18 and RGC-5 cells (P < 0.05 or 0.01). FVCO (25 µg/mL) markedly increased the migration ability of CCD-18 and RGC-5 cells (P < 0.05). FVCO did not affect cell morphology as indicated by fluorescein diacetate (FDA), rhodamine 123 and Hoechst staining. FVCO (25, 50 and 100 µg/mL) significantly stimulated the ex vivo blood vessel formation as compared with negative control (P < 0.05). Rats in FVCO group had significantly smaller wound size, higher wound healing percentage, and shorter wound closure time when compared with control group since day 8 (P < 0.05), suggesting that oral FVCO administration notably promoted the wound healing process. FVCO treatment (6 and 12 µg/mL) significantly enhanced the phospho-VEGFR2 expression in HUVECs (P = 0.006 and 0.000, respectively).

Conclusion: Our study confirms a high angiogenic and wound healing potency of FVCO that might be mediated by the regulation of VEGF signing pathway.

Keywords: VEGF; Virgin coconut oil; angiogenesis; cell proliferation; wound healing.