New skin substitutes for burn medicine or reconstructive surgery pose an important issue in plastic surgery. Matriderm® is a clinically approved three-dimensional bovine collagen-elastin matrix which is already used as a dermal substitute of full thickness burn wounds. The drawback of an avital matrix is the limited integration in full thickness skin defects, depending on the defect size. To further optimize this process, Matriderm® has also been studied as a matrix for tissue engineering of skin albeit long-term cultivation of the matrix with cells has been difficult. Cells have generally been seeded onto the matrix with high cell loss and minimal time-consuming migration. Here we developed a cell seeded skin equivalent after microtransfer of cells directly into the matrix. First, cells were cultured, and microinjected into Matriderm®. Then, cell viability in the matrix was determined by histology in vitro. As a next step, the skin substitute was applied in vivo into a full thickness rodent wound model. The wound coverage and healing was observed over a period of two weeks followed by histological examination assessing cell viability, proliferation and integration into the host. Viable and proliferating cells could be found throughout the entire matrix. The presented skin substitute resembles healthy skin in morphology and integrity. Based on this study, future investigations are planned to examine behaviour of epidermal stem cells injected into a collagen-elastin matrix under the aspects of establishment of stem cell niches and differentiation.
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