Purpose: Autologous full-thickness skin grafting (FTSG) has the potential to become an option in abdominal wall repair. An understanding of tissue remodelling in the extracellular matrix (ECM) is crucial as this interplay determines such parameters as tissue strength and flexibility. This cross-sectional preclinical laboratory study in mice provides information on the distribution of collagen types and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in the ECM of FTSGs in the intraperitoneal and onlay positions compared with internal controls. The aim was to evaluate morphologic changes after tissue remodelling and repair in FTSGs applied in the two positions and to detect any adverse host response.
Methods: ECM components were evaluated as follows: qualitative examination of collagen bundle thickness using Picrosirius Red staining (collagen types I, III and IV); and evaluation of collagen types IV and V, as well as MMPs 1, 8 and 9 using immunohistochemical staining. Full-thickness grafts transplanted between female twin mice were examined as this best mimics autologous transplantation.
Results: At 8 weeks, FTSGs in the intraperitoneal position did not show any noticeable differences in morphologic appearance to those in the onlay position. Both intraperitoneal and onlay FTSGs showed increases in the amount of thick collagen bundles compared to internal controls. No correlation was seen between distribution of MMPs 1, 8 or 9 and distribution of collagen types I, III, IV or V.
Conclusion: This preclinical study shows that FTSGs in both intraperitoneal and onlay positions are possible application site options and, by extension, promising application site options for abdominal wall reinforcement in hernia surgery. Clinical studies in humans are required to confirm these findings.
Keywords: Collagen; ECM; FTSG; Hernia; MMP; Parastomal.
© 2022. The Author(s).