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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Feb;86(3):933-7.

Synthesis and characterization of a model extracellular matrix that induces partial regeneration of adult mammalian skin.

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Fibers and Polymers Laboratories, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139.


Regeneration of the dermis does not occur spontaneously in the adult mammal. The epidermis is regenerated spontaneously provided there is a dermal substrate over which it can migrate. Certain highly porous, crosslinked collagen-glycosaminoglycan copolymers have induced partial morphogenesis of skin when seeded with dermal and epidermal cells and then grafted on standard, full-thickness skin wounds in the adult guinea pig. A mature epidermis and a nearly physiological dermis, which lacked hair follicles but was demonstrably different from scar, were regenerated over areas as large as 16 cm2. These chemical analogs of extracellular matrices were morphogenetically active provided that the average pore diameter ranged between 20 and 125 microns, the resistance to degradation by collagenase exceeded a critical limit, and the density of autologous dermal and epidermal cells inoculated therein was greater than 5 x 10(4) cells per cm2 of wound area. Unseeded copolymers with physical structures that were within these limits delayed the onset of wound contraction by about 10 days but did not eventually prevent it. Seeded copolymers not only delayed contraction but eventually arrested and reversed it while new skin was being regenerated. The data identify a model extracellular matrix that acts as if it were an insoluble growth factor with narrowly specified physiochemical structure, functioning as a transient basal lamina during morphogenesis of skin.

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