The Effect of Several Silver-Containing Wound Dressings on Fibroblast Function In Vitro Using the Collagen Lattice Contraction M

Christine A. Cochrane, PhD;1 Michael Walker, PhD;2 Phil Bowler, MPhil;2 David Parsons, PhD;2 Derek C. Knottenbelt, OBE, DVM&S1

Over the last 2 millennia, many civilizations have recognized silver as a treatment for preventing diseases.1 Within the last 50 years, following renewed interest in the use of silver nitrate solution for burn wound infections,2 silver became known as one of the least toxic antimicrobial agents and regained widespread acceptance in wound care.3
The primary purpose of a topical antimicrobial agent is to reduce bacterial contamination and opportunities for infection. Ideally, these agents should combine maximum antimicrobial function with minimal toxicity to either intact or damaged tissue. In particular, when a topical antimicrobial agent is applied to an open wound, it is important to understand the possible effects that this agent may have on cells that play a critical role in tissue regeneration (eg, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and keratinocytes). Consequently, the concentration and availability of an antimicrobial agent to host tissue are important issues.
It is difficult to use in-vitro models to mimic the complex events that take place in wound healing, as they cannot duplicate many of the complex and uncontrolled events within a wound environment.4 However, the fibroblast-seeded collagen gel contraction model, first proposed by Bell et al, has been used extensively for more than 25 years.5 In a recent review, Carlson and Longaker suggested that this model’s simplicity (ie, the use of a single cell line embedded in a collagen gel) may be its strength.4 It was further stated that “If its limitations are respected then the fibroblast-populated collagen matrix can be used as a model of the healing wound.”4
In previous studies using this in-vitro model, the contraction rates of equine granulation tissue fibroblasts have been shown to be comparable to human granulation tissue fibroblasts,6 as this model allows fibroblasts to grow in a 3-dimensional collagen gel structure, a matrix component native to the wound environment. Previous studies have looked at the antibacterial, physical, and chemical characteristics of 7 proprietary silver-containing dressings.7 In this report, in-vitro studies of biological characteristics (eg, fibroblast function) of the same dressings were conducted using equine fibroblasts seeded within a collagen gel structure.


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