Rhamnolipids from non-pathogenic Acinetobacter calcoaceticus: Bioreactor-scale production, characterization and wound healing potency

Peili Zhu, Shiqing Zhang, Rajat Kumar, Zhu Zhang, Zhang Zhang, Ying Wang, Xiaoli Jiang, Kaili Lin, Guneet Kaur*, Ken Kin Lam Yung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Rhamnolipids are predominantly produced from the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which restricts their scaled-up production and biomedical applications. Moreover, the wound healing property of rhamnolipids is mainly focused on either mono- or di-rhamnolipid congeners, which are obtained after extensive and costly purification procedures. Here, crude rhamnolipids from non-pathogenic Acinetobacter calcoaceticus BU-03 have been prepared and characterized and their wound healing potency evaluated in vitro and in vivo. Rhamnolipid extract was produced in a bioreactor by batch fermentation at a concentration of 12.7 ± 1.4 g/L. Characterization of the extract by Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry revealed characteristic rhamnolipid peaks. Rha-C10-C10 and Rha-Rha-C10-C10 appeared as the predominant congeners along with minor quantities of six more congeners. The rhamnolipid extract obtained from A. calcoaceticus had no toxicity against mouse fibroblast L929 cells and accelerated their migration. Transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) has been shown to promote fibroblast migration by activating Smad3. It was found that the rhamnolipid extract enhanced Smad3 phosphorylation in L929 cells. In vivo studies showed that it promoted wound healing in mice with excisional wounds. The protein levels of TGF-β1 and alpha smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), a highly contractile protein, were significantly increased by 2.56- and 1.51-fold, respectively, in extract-treated compared with vehicle control-treated wounds, indicating that the activation of TGF-β1 signaling is possibly involved in the wound healing effect. These results suggest that a rhamnolipid extract obtained from A. calcoaceticus has potential as a wound healing material for topical application in cutaneous wound treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-31
Number of pages9
JournalNew Biotechnology
Early online date7 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Molecular Biology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Acinetobacter calcoaceticus
  • Bioreactor fermentation
  • Rhamnolipids
  • TGF-β1
  • Wound healing


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