Development of a one-step approach for the reconstruction of full thickness skin defects using minced split thickness skin grafts and biodegradable synthetic scaffolds as a dermal substitute

Burns. 2014 Aug;40(5):957-65. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2013.09.026. Epub 2013 Nov 23.


Introduction: Tissue engineering has progressed in delivering laboratory-expanded keratinocytes to the clinic; however the production of a suitable alternative to a skin graft, containing both epidermis and dermis still remains a challenge.

Aim: To develop a one-step approach to wound reconstruction using finely minced split thickness skin and a biodegradable synthetic dermal substitute.

Methods: This was explored in vitro using scalpel diced pieces of split thickness human skin combined with synthetic electrospun polylactide (PLA) scaffolds. To aid the spreading of tissue, 1% methylcellulose was used and platelet releasate was examined for its effect on cellular outgrowth from tissue explants. The outcome parameters included the metabolic activity of the migrating cells and their ability to produce collagen. Cell presence and migration on the scaffolds were assessed using fluorescence microscopy and SEM. Cells were identified as keratinocytes by immunostaining for pan-cytokeratin. Collagen deposition was quantified by using Sirius red.

Results: Skin cells migrated along the fibers of the scaffold and formed new collagen. 1% methylcellulose improved the tissue handling properties of the minced skin. Platelet releasate did not stimulate the migration of skin cells along scaffold fibers. Immunohistochemistry and SEM confirmed the presence of both epithelial and stromal cells in the new tissue.

Conclusion: We describe the first key steps in the production of a skin substitute to be assembled in theatre eliminating the need for cell culture. Whilst further experiments are needed to develop this technique it can be a useful addition to armamentarium of the reconstructive surgeon.

Keywords: Burn reconstruction; Electrospun scaffold; Minced human skin; Skin substitute; Wound reconstruction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorbable Implants*
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Methylcellulose
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Polyesters
  • Skin / cytology*
  • Skin Transplantation / methods*
  • Skin, Artificial*
  • Stromal Cells
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Tissue Scaffolds*
  • Transplants / cytology*


  • Polyesters
  • poly(lactide)
  • Methylcellulose