The use of native chemical functional groups presented by wound beds for the covalent attachment of polymeric microcarriers of bioactive factors

Rishabh Jain, Ankit Agarwal, Patricia R. Kierski, Michael J. Schurr, Christopher J Murphy, Jonathan F. McAnulty, Nicholas L. Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The development of versatile methods that provide spatial and temporal control over the presentation of physical and biochemical cues on wound beds can lead to new therapeutic approaches that expedite wound healing by favorably influencing cellular behaviors. Toward that goal, we report that native chemical functional groups presented by wound beds can be utilized for direct covalent attachment of polymeric microbeads. Specifically, we demonstrated the covalent attachment of maleimide-functionalized and catechol-functionalized microbeads, made of either polystyrene (non-degradable) or poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) ((PLGA), degradable), to sulfhydryl and amine groups present on porcine dermis used here as an ex vivo model wound bed. A pronounced increase (10-70 fold) in the density and persistence of the covalently reactive microbeads was observed relative to microbeads that adsorb via non-covalent interactions. Complementary characterization of the surface chemistry of the ex vivo wound beds using Raman microspectroscopy provides support for our conclusion that the increased adherence of the maleimide-functionalized beads results from their covalent bond formation with sulfhydryl groups on the wound bed. The attachment of maleimide-functionalized microbeads to wounds created in live wild-type and diabetic mice led to observations of differential immobilization of microbeads on them and were consistent with anticipated differences in the presentation of sulfhydryl groups on the two different wound types. Finally, the incorporation of maleimide-functionalized microbeads in wounds created in wild-type mice did not impair the rate of wound closure relative to an untreated wound. Overall, the results presented in this paper enable a general and facile approach to the engineering of wound beds in which microbeads are covalently immobilized to wound beds. Such immobilized microbeads could be used in future studies to release bioactive factors (e.g., antimicrobial agents or growth factors) and/or introduce topographical cues that promote cell behaviors underlying healing and wound closure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-352
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Diabetic wounds
  • Dopamine
  • Maleimide
  • Microspheres
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Biophysics


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