Lysozyme-Responsive Spray-Dried Chitosan Particles for Early Detection of Wound Infection

Infections are a severe health issue, and the need for an early point-of-care diagnostic approach for wound infections is continuously growing. Lysozyme has shown a great potential as a biomarker for rapid detection of wound infection. In this study, spray-drying of labeled and derivatized chitosans was investigated for the production of small particles responsive to lysozyme. Therefore, various chitosans, differing in their origin (snow crab, Chionoecetes sp., with medium and low molecular weight or shrimp) were N-acetylated, labeled with reactive black 5, and tested for solubility and spray-drying suitability. Reactive black-5-stained N-acetylated chitosan (low molecular weight, origin crab) was successfully spray-dried, and the obtained particles were characterized regarding size, ζ potential, and morphology. The particles showed an average hydrodynamic radius of 612.5 ± 132.8 nm. ζ potential was measured in the context of a later application as an infection detection system for wound infections in artificial wound fluid (−6.14 ± 0.16 mV) and infected wound fluid (−7.93 ± 1.35 mV). Furthermore, the aggregation behavior and surface structure were analyzed by using scanning electron microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy revealing spherical-shaped particles with explicit surface topologies. Spray-dried N-acetylated chitosan particles showed a 5-fold increase in lysozyme-responsive release of dyed chitosan fragments due to the enhanced surface area to volume ratio when compared to non-spray-dried N-acetylated chitosan flakes. On the basis of these results, the study showed the improved properties of N-acetylated spray-dried chitosan particles for future applications for early and rapid infection detection.