Prolonged Retention of Glutaraldehyde-treated Skin Allografts and Xenografts: Immunological and Histological Studies

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Glutaraldehyde (GA)-treated skin allografts and xenografts (from mice, rats and guinea-pigs) behave in the same way as judged from retention time, gross inspection, microscopic examination, and assays for graft antigenicity. The GA-treated grafts are retained for long periods of time (an increase by more than 6-fold as compared to untreated grafts), they are tightly bound to the recipient, they are initially soft but become progressively stiffer with minimal shrinkage in size, and remain free from infection. The histology shows that the grafts are nonviable and fixed by the GA, they are avascularized but the general structure of the skin (epidermis, adnexa and dermis) is preserved for about 3 months. The antigenicity of the GA-treated grafts is very poor, actually it is undetectable. They do not elicit the formation of cytotoxic antibodies, and animals sensitized by untreated allografts retain the GA-treated allografts similarly to normal unsensitized recipients. The lack of transplantation immunity is also indicated by the fact that GA-treated isografts behave and are rejected similarly to GA-treated allografts and xenografts. Microscopic examination suggests that the mechanism of rejection of GA-treated grafts is similar to that operating in the rejection of an inert foreign body. The marked prolongation in the retention of Ga-treated skin grafts and their properties justify investigations on the applicability of these grafts in clinical practice.

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