, Volume 36, Issue 6, pp 801-812

Tissue-engineered human skin substitutes developed from collagen-populated hydrated gels: clinical and fundamental applications

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The field of tissue engineering has opened several avenues in biomedical sciences, through ongoing progress. Skin substitutes are currently optimised for clinical as well as fundamental applications. The paper reviews the development of collagen-populated hydrated gels for their eventual use as a therapeutic option for the treatment of burn patients or chronic wounds: tools for pharmacological and toxicological studies, and cutaneous models for in vitro studies. These skin substitutes are produced by culturing keratinocytes on a matured dermal equivalent composed of fibroblasts included in a collagen gel. New biotechnological approaches have been developed to prevent contraction (anchoring devices) and promote epithelial cell differentiation. The impact of dermo-epidermal interactions on the differentiation and organisation of bio-engineered skin tissues has been demonstrated with human skin cells. Human skin substitutes have been adapted for percutaneous absorption studies and toxicity assessment. The evolution of these human skin substitutes has been monitored in vivo in preclinical studies showing promising results. These substitutes could also serve as in vitro models for better understanding of the immunological response and healing mechanism in human skin. Thus, such human skin substitutes present various advantages and are leading to the development of other bio-engineered tissues, such as blood vessels, ligaments and bronchi.