Creating a three-dimensional human skin burn model using commercially available synthetic dermal replacement matrices

Miss Olivia McGifford1, Miss Hollie Ryan2, Mrs Elizabeth Chessman1, Associate Professor Tim, R. Dargaville2, Doctor Leila Cuttle1

1Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research, Queensland University of Technology, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation at Centre for Children’s Health Research, South Brisbane, Australia, 2School of Chemistry, Physics and Mechanical Engineering, Science and Engineering Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane City, Australia


In Australia, approximately 2,000 children/year are hospitalized due to burn injuries and the after-effects can last a lifetime. New burn wound therapies are tested on animal models, however this is expensive and ethically questionable. A 3D, composite, in vitro skin model would enable rapid testing of new potential treatments. Dermal replacement matrices (DRM) are used surgically to replace skin in deep burn injuries. They are readily available and could be utilised as a human “in vitro” skin model. In this study, human primary keratinocyte and fibroblast skin cells were grown on four matrices (Biobrane®, Biodegradable-Temporising Matrix – BTM, Integra® and Matriderm®) to grow tissue similar to native human skin. Different ratios of the primary cells were seeded onto the matrices to determine the cell numbers required for optimal growth. Fluorescent staining confirmed the presence of living and dead cells within the matrices. Histological dyes were used to observe morphology and immunohistochemistry was used to characterize and localize the cells. After the model was confirmed to be similar to native human skin, it was used as an “in vitro human skin” burn model and the staining techniques described above were used to characterise the cell damage. Integra® and Matriderm® had the most suitable cell adherence and proliferation. Biobrane®, BTM and Matriderm® withstood heat up to 90° without deformation. The most appropriate DRM for an in vitro skin burn model was Matriderm®, as it supported superior cell growth and withstood the heat of burning.


Studied Biomedical Science, majoring in anatomy and minoring in human physiology and cell and molecular bioinfomatics. Graduated last year with distinction

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