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April 1993

The Biology of Skin Grafts: Skin Grafts as Pharmacologic Agents

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami (Fla) School of Medicine.

Arch Dermatol. 1993;129(4):481-483. doi:10.1001/archderm.1993.01680250093014

† Background.—  Skin grafting is commonly used to treat nonhealing wounds. However, how skin grafts help to heal wounds is not entirely known. Why epithelium from grafted skin is able to migrate and cover these wounds, while epithelium at the edge of nonhealing wounds is unable to, is a long unanswered biologic question.

Observations.—  The recent use of cultured epithelial allografts has rekindled interest in the biology of skin grafts. Replaced, even in chronic wounds, by recipient epithelium, cultured epithelial allografts appear to work by providing a potent stimulus to healing imparted by the graft itself. Based on this, we have reassessed how skin autografts help to heal wounds and hypothesize that, in a similar fashion, autografts may work not only by replacing tissue but also by providing a stimulus for healing.

Conclusions.—  We suggest that skin grafts may work not only as tissue replacement but as pharmacologic agents that provide a stimulus for healing. We believe that, someday, it may be possible to augment the stimulatory properties of donor skin to speed healing of the recipient wound.(Arch Dermatol. 1993;129:481-483)

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