Polysulfide nanoparticles inhibit fibroblast-to-myofibroblast transition via extracellular ROS scavenging and have potential anti-fibrotic properties

Alessandro Siani, Lorena Infante Teixeira, Richard D’Arcy, Iwan Vaughan Roberts, Farah El Mohtadi, Roberto Donno, Nicola Tirelli

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This paper is about the effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS) - and of their nanoparticle-mediated extracellular removal - in the TGF-β1-induced differentiation of fibroblasts (human dermal fibroblasts - HDFa) to more contractile myofibroblasts, and in the maintenance of this phenotype. Here, poly(propylene sulfide) (PPS) nanoparticles have been employed on 2D and 3D in vitro models, showing extremely low toxicity and undergoing negligible internalization, thereby ensuring an extracellular-only action. Firstly, PPS nanoparticles abrogated ROS-mediated downstream molecular events such as glutathione oxidation, NF-κB activation, and heme oxidase-1 (HMOX) overexpression. Secondly, PPS nanoparticles were also capable to inhibit, prevent and reverse the TGF-β1-induced upregulation of key biomechanical elements, such as ED-a fibronectin (EF-A FN) and alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), respectively markers of protomyofibroblastic and of myofibroblastic differentiation. We also confirmed that ROS alone are ineffective promoters of the myofibroblastic transition, although their presence contributes to its stabilization. Finally, the particles also countered TGF-β1-induced matrix- and tissue-level phenomena, e.g., the upregulation of collagen type 1, the development of aberrant collagen type 1/3 ratios and the contracture of HDFa 3D-seeded fibrin constructs. In short, experimental data at molecular, cellular and tissue levels show a significant potential in the use of PPS nanoparticles as anti-fibrotic agents.
Original languageEnglish
Article number213537
Number of pages13
JournalBiomaterials Advances
Early online date3 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • Polysulfides
  • Oxidation responsiveness
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Fibrosis
  • UKRI
  • MRC
  • EP/L014904/1

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