Cross talk between fibroblasts and keratinocytes, which maintains skin homeostasis, is disrupted in chronic wounds. For venous leg ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers, a bilayered living cellular construct (BLCC), containing both fibroblasts and keratinocytes that participate in cross talk, is a safe and effective product in healing chronic wounds. To show the importance of both cell types in BLCC, constructs were generated containing only fibroblasts or only keratinocytes and compared directly to BLCC via histology, mechanical testing, gene/protein analysis, and angiogenesis assays. BLCC contained a fully differentiated epithelium and showed greater tensile strength compared with one-cell-type constructs, most likely due to formation of intact basement membrane and well-established stratum corneum in BLCC. Furthermore, expression of important wound healing genes, cytokines, and growth factors was modulated by the cells in BLCC compared with constructs containing only one cell type. Finally, conditioned medium from BLCC promoted greater endothelial network formation compared with media from one-cell-type constructs. Overall, this study characterized a commercially available wound healing product and showed that the presence of both fibroblasts and keratinocytes in BLCC contributed to epithelial stratification, greater tensile strength, modulation of cytokine and growth factor expression, and increased angiogenic properties compared with constructs containing fibroblasts or keratinocytes alone.
© 2014 The Authors. Wound Repair and Regeneration published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Wound Healing Society.