Ex vivo wounded human skin organ culture is an invaluable tool for translationally relevant preclinical wound healing research. However, studies incorporating this system are still underutilized within the field because of the low throughput of histological analysis required for downstream assessment. In this study, we use intravital fluorescent dye to lineage trace epidermal cells, demonstrating that wound re-epithelialization of human ex vivo wounds occurs consistent with an extending shield mechanism of collective migration. Moreover, we also report a relatively simple method to investigate global epithelial closure of explants in culture using daily fluorescent dye treatment and en face imaging. This study is the first to quantify healing of ex vivo wounds in a longitudinal manner, providing global assessments for re-epithelialization and tissue contraction. We show that this approach can identify alterations to healing with a known healing promoter. This methodological study highlights the utility of human ex vivo wounds in enhancing our understanding of mechanisms of human skin repair and in evaluating novel therapies to improve healing outcome.
ASJC Scopus subject areas