Cultured keratinocyte (CK) allografts have limited antigenicity and have been used as a skin replacement in patients with massive thermal injury. Recent data indicate that CK grafts are more immunogenic than previously believed and could compromise wound healing in the immunocompetent host. The purpose of this study was to determine if the immunosuppression of burn injury might affect the alloantigen response and minimize sensitization to CK allografts. CBA mice received a 0%, 20%, or 40% burn that was partially excised three days later and grafted with a full-thick-ness (FT) skin allograft, CK allograft, or CK autograft. Two weeks postburn, mice received FT tail skin allografts, which were observed for rejection We observed that FT and CK allografts primed the unburned host with equal efficacy. However, bum injury selectively minimized priming by CK allografts, resulting in delayed rejection of second-set allografts. With evidence that burn iqjury inhibits host sensitization to CK allografts, we then examined the effect of burn size on CTL alloreactivity. Additional CBA mice underwent burn injury, excision, and grafting as described above. Host splenocytes were harvested two weeks later and tested on radiolabeled targets for allospe-cific cytotoxicity. CTLs from unburned mice primed with FT allografts demonstrated the greatest CTL lysis, followed next by CTLs from unbumed mice covered with CK allografts. Bum injury inhibited CTL activity as a function of wound size. Activity of CTLs from burned mice primed with CK allografts improved after in vitro allostimulation but remained below that of CTLs from unbumed, unprimed mice. We conclude that bum iiyury selectively inhibits the allospecific response to CK allografts. The decreased immunoge-nicity of CK allografts, when used for bum wound coverage, may improve the long-term survival of allogeneic keratinocytes, enhancing their potential as a biologic skin replacement.
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