Donor Site Healing Dynamics: Molecular, Histological, and Noninvasive Imaging Assessment in a Porcine Model

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Understanding the physiology of donor site healing will lead to advances in how these wounds are treated and may ultimately allow faster healing, more frequent autografting, and more effective care of the burn-injured patient. Unfortunately, a paucity of data exists regarding perfusion metrics over the course of donor site healing. Furthermore, there are no studies that interrelate indices of perfusion with the molecular and cellular processes of donor site healing. Male Duroc pigs were anesthetized and donor site wounds were created using a Zimmer dermatome at a depth of 0.060 inch (1.52 mm). Digital photographs, laser Doppler images, and punch biopsies were obtained before and after excision and on days 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 14, and 16 until wounds were healed. RNA isolation was performed and quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to examine differential gene expression over the time course. Formalin-fixed biopsies were embedded in paraffin, sectioned, stained, and examined. Wound surfaces were 83% re-epithelialized by day 16. Perfusion peaked on day 2 then declined, but it remained significantly elevated compared to before excision (P < .05). From day 9 onward, mean perfusion units were not significantly different from baseline (P < .05). Twenty-two representative genes were selected for examination. RNA expression of collagen, tenascin-cytoactin, inflammatory cytokines, remodeling enzymes, growth factors, and Wnt was increased. Inflammatory cells and cytokines were demonstrated histologically. Nuclei per high powered field peaked at day 7 and neodermal thickness increased daily to day 14. A novel porcine model for donor site wound healing that interrelates re-epithelilaizationand perfusion with molecular and cellular indices has been demonstrated.

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