Background: Cultured epidermal autographs (CEAs) are currently used as a coverage treatment for burn wounds, for disfiguring burn scars involving depigmentation and in restoring the elasticity of the skin. The advantage of CEAs is that epidermal sheets prepared from small skin pieces can be enlarged sufficiently to cover large burn areas. Objectives: We examined the correlation between recovery of skin texture, and elastic fibre formation and keratinocyte differentiation (assessed by immunohistochemistry) in CEAs used as replacement skin after tattoo excision in a Japanese patient. Methods: The tattooed skin was excised down to the deep dermal layer and then CEA was transplanted onto the patient. The skin textures were evaluated by taking replicas of the skin surface, and histological changes of filaggrin, transglutaminase, involucrin, fibrillin and elastin in the autograft skin were examined by immunohistochemistry. Results: The skin texture improved with time after grafting the CEA, and appeared similar to that of normal skin at 39 months. Among keratinocyte differentiation markers, filaggrin recovered to a normal pattern at around 6 months, and transglutaminase did so at 39 months, whereas involucrin expression remained abnormal at 39 months. Fibrillin expression appeared similar to that of normal skin by 39 months, except for sparse candelabra-like structures of short fibres. Elastin expression remained at a low level throughout. Conclusions: Our results show that the recovery of skin texture after application of CEAs following tattoo excision is associated with the normalization of epidermal differentiation markers, except involucrin, and with the regeneration of elastic fibres in the dermis.
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