Bioengineered skin is being used to successfully treat a variety of wounds. Randomized controlled clinical trials have shown that a living bilayered skin construct (BSC), consisting of human neonatal keratinocytes and fibroblasts in a collagen matrix, was able to accelerate complete closure of both venous and diabetic ulcers. BSC was particularly effective in difficult-to-heal wounds of long duration. In patients treated with BSC, no obvious signs of gross clinical rejection were observed. Testing of these treated patients showed no BSC-specific immune response and no immune response to bovine collagen or alloantigens expressed on keratinocytes and fibroblasts. However, very little is known about the histologic changes that occur after BSC has been placed on human wounds. We report our preliminary histologic observations in this uncontrolled study of a cohort of 11 patients with 14 wounds treated with BSC in whom biopsy specimens of the grafted sites were obtained at least 2 weeks after application of the construct. The etiology of these ulcers varied from arterial or venous disease to an extensively and poorly healing burn wound. Histologically, thickening of the grafted bioengineered skin was seen in all samples where residual BSC could be identified. Mucin deposition was noted in the dermal layer of the wounds and BSC in 13 of the 14 specimens examined. Unexpectedly, and in spite of good clinical outcome, 4 of the 14 specimens exhibited a foreign body-like granulomatous response. There was no history of prior exposure to BSC in the 4 patients who had a granulomatous response. These early histologic observations suggest that stimulatory interactions develop between BSC and the wound. The consistently found deposition of mucin may point to a fetal pattern of wound repair associated with the neonatal cells in BSC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas