Cytotoxicity of silver dressings on diabetic fibroblasts

Shi Bo Zou, Won Young Yoon, Seung Kyu Han, Seong Ho Jeong, Zheng Jun Cui, Woo Kyung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


A large number of silver-based dressings are commonly used in the management of chronic wounds that are at risk of infection, including diabetic foot ulcers. However, there are still controversies regarding the toxicity of silver dressings on wound healing. The purpose of this study was to objectively test the cytotoxicity of silver dressings on human diabetic fibroblasts. Human diabetic fibroblasts were obtained from the foot skin of four diabetic foot ulcer patients and cultured. The effect of five silver-containing dressing products (Aquacel Ag, Acticoat*Absorbent, Medifoam Ag, Biatain Ag and PolyMem Ag) and their comparable silver-free dressing products on morphology, proliferation and collagen synthesis of the cultured human diabetic fibroblasts were compared in vitro. In addition, extracts of each dressing were tested in order to examine the effect of other chemical components found in the dressings on cytotoxicity. The diabetic fibroblasts cultured with each silver-free dressing adopted the typical dendritic and fusiform shape. On the other hand, the diabetic fibroblasts did not adopt this typical morphology when treated with the different silver dressings. All silver dressings tested in the study reduced the viability of the diabetic fibroblasts and collagen synthesis by 54-70 and 48-68%, respectively, when compared to silver-free dressings. Silver dressings significantly changed the cell morphology and decreased cell proliferation and collagen synthesis of diabetic fibroblasts. Therefore, silver dressings should be used with caution when treating diabetic wounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-312
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Wound Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jun
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytotoxicity
  • Diabetic fibroblasts
  • Silver dressing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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