Cultured human keratinocyte grafts have been shown to stimulate endogenous reepithelialization of both chronic nonhealing and acute partial-thickness wounds. This effect is most likely mediated by cytokines that stimulate keratinocyte growth, such as transforming growth factor alpha. The effect of cellular age on cytokine expression by cultured grafts used for this purpose is presently undefined. In this study, transforming growth factor alpha gene expression in cultured foreskin keratinocytes from donors varying in age from 2 to 82 years was analyzed semiquantitatively by two separate methods, ie, Northern hybridization and competitive polymerase chain reaction.
No pattern of decline in transforming growth factor alpha messenger RNA expression with increasing cellular age was observed by either analysis.
The results indicate that expression of transforming growth factor alpha by cultured grafts may not be significantly affected by increasing cellular age and suggest that, even in the elderly, cultured autografts may be effective as pharmacologic agents for wound treatment.(Arch Dermatol. 1995;131:683-690)