Dermo-epidermal equivalents based on plasma-derived fibrin hydrogels have been extensively studied for skin engineering. However, they showed rapid degradation and contraction over time and low mechanical properties which limit their reproducibility and lifespan. In order to achieve better mechanical properties, elasticity and biological properties, we incorporated a elastin-like recombinamer (ELR) network, based on two types of ELR, one modified with azide (SKS-N3) and other with cyclooctyne (SKS-Cyclo) chemical groups at molar ratio 1:1 at three different SKS (serine-lysine-serine sequence) concentrations (1, 3, and 5 wt.%), into plasma-derived fibrin hydrogels. Our results showed a decrease in gelation time and contraction, both in the absence and presence of the encapsulated human primary fibroblasts (hFBs), higher mechanical properties and increase in elasticity when SKSs content is equal or higher than 3%. However, hFBs proliferation showed an improvement when the lowest SKS content (1 wt.%) was used but started decreasing when increasing SKS concentration at day 14 with respect to the plasma control. Proliferation of human primary keratinocytes (hKCs) seeded on top of the hybrid-plasma hydrogels containing 1 and 3% of SKS showed no differences to plasma control and an increase in hKCs proliferation was observed for hybrid-plasma hydrogels containing 5 wt.% of SKS. These promising results showed the need to achieve a balance between the reduced contraction, the better mechanical properties and biological properties and indicate the potential of using this type of hydrogel as a testing platform for pharmaceutical products and cosmetics, and future work will elucidate their potential.
Materials science and engineering
bilayered in vitro skin substitutes; elastin like recombinamers; human plasma-derived fibrin hydrogels; fibrin hydrogels; hybrid plasma-elastin hydrogels; bioengineered skin; skin tissue engineering