Mechanisms of wound reepithelialization: hints from a tissue-engineered reconstructed skin to long-standing questions

FASEB J. 2001 Nov;15(13):2377-89. doi: 10.1096/fj.01-0250com.


Wound closure of epithelial tissues must occur efficiently to restore rapidly their barrier function. We have developed a tissue-engineered wound-healing model composed of human skin keratinocytes and fibroblasts to better understand the mechanisms of reepithelialization. It allowed us to quantify the reepithelialization rate, which was significantly accelerated in the presence of fibrin or platelet-rich plasma. The reepithelialization of these 6 mm excisional wounds required the contribution of keratinocyte proliferation, migration, stratification, and differentiation. The epidermis regenerated progressively from the surrounding wound margins. After 3 days, the neoepidermis showed a complete spectrum of changes. Near the wound margin, the differentiation of the neoepidermis (keratins 1/10, filaggrin, and loricrin) and regeneration of the dermoepidermal junction (laminin 5 and collagen IV) were more advanced than toward the wound center, where the proliferative index was significantly increased. The spatial distribution of keratinocytes distinguished by particular features suggests two complementary mechanisms of reepithelialization: 1) the passive displacement of the superficial layers near the wound margin that would rapidly regenerate a barrier function and 2) the crawling of keratinocytes over each other at the tip of the progressing neoepidermis. Therefore, this study brings a new perspective to long-standing questions concerning wound reepithelialization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / analysis
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Collagen Type IV / analysis
  • Epidermal Cells
  • Epidermis / growth & development
  • Epidermis / ultrastructure
  • Epithelium / chemistry
  • Epithelium / growth & development*
  • Epithelium / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Filaggrin Proteins
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / growth & development
  • Skin / ultrastructure
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Collagen Type IV
  • FLG protein, human
  • Filaggrin Proteins
  • kalinin