OBJECTIVES: Skin grafting has been evolving as an important application in reconstructive surgery. Mixed reports about the survival of allogeneic and xenogeneic keratinocytes require further substantiation to determine the role of these cells in wound healing. MATERIALS AND METHODS:Rabbit and rat skins were recovered and cultured in vitro. Full-thickness wounds were created on the dorsum of rabbits (2 cm × 2 cm; n = 4). Cultured epithelial autograft, allograft, and xenograft cellswere sprayed onto 3 freshly created wounds, with 1 wound acting as a control. The wounds were monitored every 2 days for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks, the rabbits were killed; skin biopsies were taken from each healed wound and stained with hematoxylin and eosin, and epidermal thickness was measured.
RESULTS: All examined grafts showed favorable healing outcomes because the wounds appeared similar to normal skin upon healing. The only observed significant difference was the thickness of the epidermis layer, which was thinner in the xenograft (P =.002) than the autograft or allograft. Morphologic evaluation of the skin surface showed that the rat skin was thinner than the rabbit skin. The graft that achieved the best result was the autograft because the thickness was similar to and mimicked normal skin.
CONCLUSIONS: All 3 grafts (autograft, allograft, and xenograft) have the potential to reconstitute epithelial defects. This approach can overcome the limitation of autologous skin donor sites, especially in burn cases.