Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) is a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily known for its anti-inflammatory and macrophage differentiation effects, as well as its ability to promote fat cell differentiation and reduce insulin resistance. Pioglitazone (Pio) is a PPARγ agonist used clinically as an anti-diabetic agent for improving insulin sensitivity in patients with diabetes. The objective of this study was to develop a drug delivery system (DDS) for the local release of Pio to promote wound healing. Pio of low aqueous solubility was water-solubilized by micelles formed from gelatin grafted with L-lactic acid oligomers, and incorporated into a biodegradable gelatin hydrogel. An 8-mm punch biopsy tool was used to prepare two skin wounds on either side of the midline of 8-week-old mice. Wounds were treated by the hydrogels with (Pio-hydrogel group) or without (control group) Pio, and the wound area were observed 1, 4, 7, and 14 days after treatment. In addition, a protein assay and immunohistological stain were performed to determine the effects of the Pio-hydrogel on inflammation and macrophage differentiation. The Pio-hydrogels promote wound healing. Moreover, Western blotting analysis demonstrated that treatment with Pio-hydrogels resulted in decreased levels of the cytokines MIP-2 and TGF-β, and increased levels of glucose-regulating adiponectin. It is concluded that Pio-incorporated hydrogels promote the proliferation and remodeling phases of wound healing, and may prove to be effective as wound dressings.
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