Collagen Fibril Network and Elastic System Remodeling in a Reconstructed Skin Transplanted on Nude Mice

Matrix Biol. 2001 Nov;20(7):463-73. doi: 10.1016/s0945-053x(01)00162-7.


Wound healing of deep and extensive burns can induce hypertrophic scar formation, which is a detrimental outcome for skin functionality. These scars are characterized by an impaired collagen fibril organization with fibril bundles oriented parallel to each other, in contrast with a basket weave pattern arrangement in normal skin. We prepared a reconstructed skin made of a collagen sponge seeded with human fibroblasts and keratinocytes and grown in vitro for 20 days. We transplanted it on the back of nude mice to assess whether this reconstructed skin could prevent scar formation. After transplantation, murine blood vessels had revascularized one-third of the sponge thickness on the fifth day and were observed underneath the epidermis at day 15. The reconstructed skin extracellular matrix was mostly made of human collagen I, organized in loosely packed fibrils 5 days after transplantation, with a mean diameter of 45 nm. After 40-90 days, fibril bundles were arranged in a basket weave pattern while their mean diameter increased to 56 nm, therefore exactly matching mouse skin papillary dermis organization. Interestingly, we showed that an elastic system remodeling was started off in this model. Indeed, human elastin deposits were organized in thin fibrils oriented perpendicular to epidermis at day 90 whereas elastic system usually took years to be re-established in human scars. Our reconstructed skin model promoted in only 90 days the remodeling of an extracellular matrix nearly similar to normal dermis (i.e. collagen fibril diameter and arrangement, and the partial reconstruction of the elastic system).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Collagen / metabolism*
  • Connective Tissue / metabolism
  • Connective Tissue / physiology
  • Dermis
  • Elastic Tissue / metabolism
  • Elastic Tissue / physiology*
  • Elastin / metabolism
  • Epidermal Cells
  • Epidermis / metabolism
  • Epidermis / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism
  • Fibrillins
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / physiology
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Microfilament Proteins / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic
  • Skin / blood supply
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Skin Transplantation*
  • Time Factors
  • Transplantation, Heterologous


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Fibrillins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Collagen
  • Elastin