Chronic wounds and severe burns are diseases responsible for severe morbidity and even death. Wound repair is a crucial process and tissue regeneration enhancement and infection prevention are key factors to minimize pain, discomfort, and scar formation. The aim of this work was the development of lipid nanoparticles (solid lipid nanoparticles and nanostructured lipid carriers [NLC]), to be loaded with eucalyptus or rosemary essential oils and to be used, as medical devices, to enhance healing of skin wounds. Lipid nanoparticles were based on natural lipids: cocoa butter, as solid lipid, and olive oil or sesame oil, as liquid lipids. Lecithin was chosen as surfactant to stabilize nanoparticles and to prevent their aggregation. The systems were prepared by high shear homogenization followed by ultrasound application. Nanoparticles were characterized for physical-chemical properties, bioadhesion, cytocompatibility, in vitro proliferation enhancement, and wound healing properties toward normal human dermal fibroblasts. Antimicrobial activity of nanoparticles was evaluated against two reference microbial strains, one of Staphylococcus aureus, the other of Streptococcus pyogenes. Finally, the capability of nanoparticles to promote wound healing in vivo was evaluated on a rat burn model. NLC based on olive oil and loaded with eucalyptus oil showed appropriate physical-chemical properties, good bioadhesion, cytocompatibility, in vitro proliferation enhancement, and wound healing properties toward fibroblasts, associated to antimicrobial properties. Moreover, the in vivo results evidenced the capability of these NLC to enhance the healing process. Olive oil, which is characterized by a high content of oleic acid, proved to exert a synergic effect with eucalyptus oil with respect to antimicrobial activity and wound repair promotion.
Keywords: antimicrobial properties; eucalyptus essential oil; lipid nanoparticles; wound healing.