Chemically cross-linked poly(vinyl alcohol) electrospun fibrous mats as wound dressing materials

Berta Diez, W. Joseph A. Homer, Laura J. Leslie, Georgios Kyriakou, Roberto Rosal, Paul D. Topham, Eirini Theodosiou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) is a synthetic biocompatible polymer that is extensively used by the medical and pharmaceutical industries due to its FDA approval for in vivo applications. Its highly hydrophilic nature makes it an ideal wound dressing material, especially in the form of nanofibrous mats. RESULTS: In this work, electrospun PVA-based scaffolds suitable for wound management were created. Chemical cross-linking with citric acid and glyoxal was employed to enhance the supports’ stability in aqueous environments, and cellulose nanocrystals were added during the electrospinning process to improve the mechanical properties of the final constructs. Varying the concentrations of the cross-linking agents (0.12-1 wt% citric acid and 0.06-0.5 wt% glyoxal), allowed the control of the rate and extend of dissolution, thereby tuning the properties of the materials to the specific wound types (e.g. acute vs chronic). There was an inverse relationship between the amount of cross-linkers used and the mats’ weight loss (ranging from 2% to 18%) after 6 days immersion in water. All supports sustained the growth of human fibroblasts (>85% viability), whereas there was no biofilm formation when in contact with S. aureus for 24 hours. The presence of cellulose nanocrystals did not affect cytocompatibility but improved the mechanical properties of the non-woven fibres. CONCLUSION: Tailor-made biocompatible electrospun mats showing antimicrobial behaviour were successfully created through altering the concentration of chemical cross-linkers. This flexible approach offers the potential of matching the dressing to the wound type and offering a more targeted solution to wound management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-632
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology
Issue number3
Early online date6 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

(c) 2021, Society of Chemical Industry (SCI). This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: "Diez, Homer, Leslie et al (2021) "Chemically cross-linked poly(vinyl alcohol) electrospun fibrous mats as wound dressing materials" Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology;" which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.

Financial support for this work was provided by the Dirección General de Universidades e Investigación de la Comunidad de Madrid Research Network S2013/MAE-2716. BD would like to acknowledge the University of Alcalá for the pre-doctoral grant award.


  • antimicrobial
  • biocompatible polymers
  • nanocellulose
  • wound management


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