This study investigated the recovery process during which grafted cultured epithelium formed normal epidermis. The subjects were 18 patients whose burn scars were excised at a depth not exposing the fat layer and who subsequently received cultured epithelial autografts. A total of 24 samples were obtained from the grafted sites: 6 samples within 6weeks (stage 1), 5 samples after 6weeks and within 6months (stage 2), 6 samples after 6months and within 18months (stage 3) and 7 samples beyond 18months (stage 4) after transplantation. These samples were stained for monoclonal antibodies against filaggrin, transglutaminase (TG), cytokeratin 6 and involucrin. Their expressions were examined in the epidermis. The expression patterns were classified using a six-grade scale. The grades of filaggrin and TG were significantly higher at stage 3 and 4 compared with stage 1. There was a marginally significant increase in the grade of cytokeratin 6 at stage 3 and it was significantly higher at stage 4 compared with stage 1. These results showed that wound healing continued at a molecular level until the end of stage 3. The recovery of involucrin was delayed compared with that of other markers. TG and involucrin are thought to be regulated independently at the grafted sites.
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