Bioengineered Self-assembled Skin as an Alternative to Skin Grafts

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Abstract

For patients with extensive burns or donor site scarring, the limited availability of autologous and the inevitable rejection of allogeneic skin drive the need for new alternatives. Existing engineered biologic and synthetic skin analogs serve as temporary coverage until sufficient autologous skin is available. Here we report successful engraftment of a self-assembled bilayered skin construct derived from autologous skin punch biopsies in a porcine model. Dermal fibroblasts were stimulated to produce an extracellular matrix and were then seeded with epidermal progenitor cells to generate an epidermis. Autologous constructs were grafted onto partial- and full-thickness wounds. By gross examination and histology, skin construct vascularization and healing were comparable to autologous skin grafts and were superior to an autologous bilayered living cellular construct fabricated with fibroblasts cast in bovine collagen. This is the first demonstration of spontaneous vascularization and permanent engraftment of a self-assembled bilayered bioengineered skin that could supplement existing methods of reconstruction.

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