Full-skin substitutes, epidermal substitutes, and dermal substitutes are currently being used to heal deep burns and chronic ulcers. In this study, we investigated which wound-healing mediators are released from these constructs and whether keratinocyte-fibroblast interactions are involved. Autologous skin substitutes were constructed from human keratinocytes, fibroblasts, and acellular donor dermis. Full-thickness skin was used to represent an autograft. Secretion of wound-healing mediators was investigated by means of protein array, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, neutralizing antibodies, and conditioned culture supernatants. Full-skin substitutes and autografts produce high amounts of inflammatory/angiogenic mediators (IL-6, CCL2, CXCL1, CXCL8, and sST2). Epidermal and dermal substitutes produced less of these proteins. Epidermal-derived proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1alpha (IL-1alpha) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) were found to mediate synergistically the secretion of these wound-healing mediators (with the exception of sST2) from fibroblasts in dermal substitutes. The secretion of proinflammatory cytokines (IL-1alpha, TNF-alpha), chemokine/mitogen (CCL5) and angiogenic factor (vascular endothelial growth factor) by epidermal substitutes and tissue remodeling factors (tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-2, hepatocyte growth factor) by dermal substitutes was not influenced by keratinocyte-fibroblast interactions. The full-skin substitute has a greater potential to stimulate wound healing than epidermal or dermal substitutes. Both epidermal-derived IL-1alpha and TNF-alpha are required to trigger the release of dermal-derived inflammatory/angiogenic mediators from skin substitutes.
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