Many new dressings have been developed since the early 1980s. Wound healing comprises cleansing, granulation/vascularization, and epithelialization phases. An optimum microenvironment and the absence of cytotoxic factors are essential for epithelialization. This study examines the effect of extracts of different wound dressings on keratinocyte survival and proliferation.
Keratinocyte cultures were exposed for 40 hours to at least three extracts of each of the following wound dressings, which were tested in octuplicate: Acticoat, Aquacel-Ag, Aquacel, Algisite M, Avance, Comfeel Plus transparent, Contreet-H, Hydrasorb, and SeaSorb. Silicone extract provided the reference material. Controls were included of cells cultured in medium that had been incubated under conditions identical to those used with the extracts. Cell survival (3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide reduction) and proliferation (5-bromo-2′:-deoxyuridine incorporation) were measured.
Extracts of silver-containing dressings (Acticoat, Aquacel-Ag, Contreet-H, and Avance) were most cytotoxic. Extracts of Hydrasorb were less cytotoxic but markedly affected keratinocyte proliferation and morphology. Extracts of alginate-containing dressings (Algisite M, SeaSorb, and Contreet-H) demonstrated high calcium concentrations, markedly reduced keratinocyte proliferation, and affected keratinocyte morphology. Extracts of Aquacel and Comfeel Plus transparent induced small but significant inhibition of keratinocyte proliferation.
The principle of minimizing harm should be applied to the choice of wound dressing. Silver-based dressings are cytotoxic and should not be used in the absence of infection. Alginate dressings with high calcium content affect keratinocyte proliferation probably by triggering terminal differentiation of keratinocytes. Such dressings should be used with caution in cases in which keratinocyte proliferation is essential. All dressings should be tested in vitro before clinical application.