Liposome-encapsulated statins reduce hypertrophic scarring through topical application

Ping Xie, David M. Dolivo, Shengxian Jia, Xing Guo Cheng, John Salcido, Robert D. Galiano, Seok Jong Hong*, Thomas A. Mustoe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Hypertrophic scar is an important clinical problem with limited therapeutic options. Aside from their roles as 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors, statins have also been demonstrated to decrease scarring by reducing connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) expression. However, poor penetrative ability limits their utility as topical treatments for hypertrophic scar. Here, we aim to develop novel statin formulations using liposomes to enhance dermal penetrative ability and to evaluate their efficacy against formation of hypertrophic scar utilizing our validated rabbit ear hypertrophic scar model. Liposomal simvastatin or pravastatin were compounded using a novel, flexible liposomal formulation and applied topically to rabbit ear hypertrophic scars daily from postoperation day (POD) 14 until POD 25. Scar color, including erythema and melanin, was measured using reflectance spectrophotometry on POD 28, and scar tissue was harvested for evaluation of scar elevation index as well as gene and protein expression. Human foreskin fibroblasts were also treated with statin formulations and CCN2 expression was determined by quantitative PCR. Both simvastatin and pravastatin were efficiently encapsulated in liposomes, forming nanometer-scale particles possessing highly negative charges. Topical treatment with liposomal simvastatin and pravastatin at 6.5% concentration significantly reduced scar elevation index and decreased type I/III collagen content and myofibroblast persistence in the wound. The erythema/vascularity of scars was reduced by liposomal statin treatment, with concomitant decrease of CD31 expression as measured histologically. Expression levels of transcripts encoding CTGF, collagen I, and collagen III collagen in scar tissue were also decreased by liposomal pravastatin treatment, as were myofibroblast persistence and the type I/III collagen ratio as assessed by immunofluorescence and picrosirus red staining, respectively. Treatment of human foreskin fibroblasts with simvastatin or with liposome-encapsulated pravastatin resulted in decreased expression of transcript encoding CTGF. Overall, our novel statin formulations encapsulated in liposomes were successfully delivered through topical application, significantly reducing hypertrophic scarring in a rabbit ear model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-469
Number of pages10
JournalWound Repair and Regeneration
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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