Tissue-engineered dermo-epidermal skin grafts prevascularized with adipose-derived cells

Biomaterials. 2014 Jun;35(19):5065-78. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2014.02.049. Epub 2014 Mar 27.


The major problem in skin grafting is that tissue-engineered skin grafts after their transplantation are initially entirely dependent on diffusion. Since this process is slow and inefficient, nutrients, growth factors, and oxygen will insufficiently be supplied and the regenerating graft will undergo a physiological crisis, resulting in scar-like dermal structures and shrinkage. The tissue-engineering of a vascular network in human dermo-epidermal skin substitutes (DESS) is a promising approach to overcome this limitation. Here we report, for the first time, on the use of the adipose stromal vascular fraction (SVF)-derived endothelial cell population to tissue-engineer DESS containing a highly efficient capillary plexus. To develop vascular networks in vitro, we employed optimized 3D fibrin or collagen type I hydrogel systems. Upon transplantation onto immune-deficient rats, these pre-formed vascular networks anastomosed to the recipient's vasculature within only four days. As a consequence, the neo-epidermis efficiently established tissue homeostasis, the dermis underwent almost no contraction, and showed sustained epidermal coverage in vivo. Overall, the here described rapid and efficient perfusion of SVF-based skin grafts opens new perspectives for the treatment of hitherto unmet clinical needs in burn/plastic surgery and dermatology.

Keywords: Adipose tissue; Angiogenesis; Collagen; Endothelial cell; Fibrin; Skin tissue-engineering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / cytology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Collagen Type I / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Female
  • Fibrin / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Young Adult


  • Collagen Type I
  • Fibrin
  • Collagen