Anumolu SS, DeSantis AS, Menjoge AR, Hahn RA, Beloni JA, Gordon MK, Sinko PJ. 2010. Doxycycline loaded poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels for healing vesicant-induced ocular wounds. Biomaterials 31(5):964–974.
Half mustard (CEES) and nitrogen mustard (NM) are commonly used surrogates and vesicant analogs of the chemical warfare agent sulfur mustard. In the current study, in situ forming poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-based doxycycline hydrogels are developed and evaluated for their wound healing efficacy in CEES and NM-exposed rabbit corneas in organ culture. The hydrogels, characterized by UV–Vis spectrophotometry, rheometry, and swelling kinetics, showed that the hydrogels are optically transparent, have good mechanical strength and a relatively low degree of swelling (<7%). In vitro doxycycline release from the hydrogel disks (0.25% w/v) was found to be biphasic with release half times of ∼12 and 72 h, respectively, with 80–100% released over a 7-day period. Permeation of doxycycline through vesicant wounded corneas was found to be 2.5 to 3.4 fold higher than non-wounded corneas. Histology and immunofluorescence studies showed a significant reduction of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and improved healing of vesicant-exposed corneas by doxycycline hydrogels compared to a similar dose of doxycycline delivered in phosphate buffered saline (PBS, pH 7.4). In conclusion, the current studies demonstrate that the doxycycline-PEG hydrogels accelerate corneal wound healing after vesicant injury offering a therapeutic option for ocular mustard injuries.