This study evaluates the sustained analgesic effect of ketorolac-eluting thermosensitive biodegradable hydrogel in the plantar incisional pain model of the rat hind-paw. A ketorolacembedded 2, 2′-Bis (2-oxazolin) (BOX) linking methoxy-poly(ethylene glycol) and poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (mPEG-PLGA) diblock copolymer (BOX copolymer) was synthesized as keto-hydrogel based on optimal sol-gel phase transition and in vitro drug release profile. The effect of keto-hydrogel on postoperative pain (POP) was assessed using the established plantar incisional pain model in hind-paw of rats and compared to that of ketorolac solution. Pain and sensory threshold, as well as pain scoring, were evaluated with behavioral tests by means of anesthesiometer and incapacitance apparatus, respectively. Proinflammatory cytokine levels (TNF-α, IL-6, VEGF, and IL-1β) around incisional wounds were measured by ELISA. Tissue histology was assessed using hematoxylin and eosin and Masson's trichrome staining. Ten mg/mL (25 wt%) keto-hydrogel showed a sol-gel transition at 26.4°C with a 10-day sustained drug release profile in vitro. Compared to ketorolac solution group, the concentration of ketorolac in tissue fluid was higher in the keto-hydrogel group during the first 18 h of application. Keto-hydrogel elevated pain and sensory threshold, increased weight-bearing capacity, and significantly reduced the levels of TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-1β while enhanced VEGF in tissue fluid. Histologic analysis reveals greater epithelialization and collagen deposition around wound treated with keto-hydrogel. In conclusion, our study suggests that keto-hydrogel is an ideal compound to treat POP with a secondary gain of improved incisional wound healing.
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