The ideal treatment for severe cutaneous injuries would eliminate the need for autografts and promote fully functional, aesthetically pleasing autologous skin regeneration. NIKS progenitor cell-based skin tissues have been developed to promote healing by providing barrier function and delivering wound healing factors. Independently, a device has recently been created to "copy" skin by harvesting full-thickness microscopic tissue columns (MTCs) in lieu of autografts traditionally harvested as sheets. We evaluated the feasibility of combining these two technologies by embedding MTCs in NIKS-based skin tissues to generate chimeric autologous/allogeneic constructs. Chimeric constructs have the potential to provide immediate wound coverage, eliminate painful donor site wounds, and promote restoration of a pigmented skin tissue possessing hair follicles, sweat glands, and sebaceous glands. After MTC insertion, chimeric constructs and controls were reintroduced into air-interface culture and maintained in vitro for several weeks. Tissue viability, proliferative capacity, and morphology were evaluated after long-term culture. Our results confirmed successful MTC insertion and integration, and demonstrated the feasibility of generating chimeric autologous/allogeneic constructs that preserved the viability, proliferative capacity, and structure of autologous pigmented skin. These feasibility studies established the proof-of-principle necessary to further develop chimeric autologous/allogeneic constructs for the treatment of complex skin defects.
Reprint & Copyright © 2014 Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S.