The angiogenesis and reinnervation were studied in a porcine model of human skin equivalent (SE) graft and the relationship between the two processes was investigated. Confocal laser scanning microscopy was used to monitor, during the healing process, the pattern of vascularization and reinnervation at different time points. The SE was obtained by co-culturing fibroblasts and keratinocytes on a collagen-glycosaminoglycan-chitosan biopolymer and grafted on dorsal wounds generated by full-thickness resection in 25/30 Kg Large white pigs. Frozen sections were obtained from biopsies performed in autograft and xenograft, then were immunolabeled by using the endothelial marker lectin Lactifolia and with the neuronal marker gene product PGP9.5. Cajal staining was also used to visualize the nerve fibers. The results show that the vascularization precedes the innervation process. These data are consistent with the view that the development of nervous tissue is driven by nutritional and trophic factors provided by the vascular system. The arborization of the two systems observed during the third week from the graft might play a key role in maintaining the healing process and the graft survival.
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