Primary closure of fetal skin in spina bifida protects the spinal cord and improves clinical outcome, but is also associated with postnatal growth malformations and spinal cord tethering. In this study, we evaluated the postnatal effects of prenatally closed full-Thickness skin defects in sheep applying collagen scaffolds with and without heparin/vascular endothelial growth factor/fibroblast growth factor 2, focusing on skin regeneration and growth. At 6 months, collagen scaffold functionalized with heparin, VEGF, and FGF2 (COL-HEP/GF) resulted in a 6.9-fold increase of the surface area of the regenerated skin opposed to 1.7 × for collagen only. Epidermal thickness increased 5.7-fold at 1 month, in line with high gene expression of S100 proteins, and decreased to 2.1 at 6 months. Increased adipose tissue and reduced scaffold degradation and number of myofibroblasts were observed for COL-HEP/GF. Gene ontology terms related to extracellular matrix (ECM) organization were enriched for both scaffold treatments. In COL-HEP/GF, ECM gene expression resembled native skin. Expression of hair follicle-related genes in COL-HEP/GF was comparable to native skin, and de novo hair follicle generation was indicated. In conclusion, in utero closure of skin defects using functionalized collagen scaffolds resulted in long-Term skin regeneration and growth. Functionalized collagen scaffolds that grow with the child may be useful for prenatal treatment of closure defects like spina bifida.

functionalized collagen scaffold, heparin and growth factors, in utero repair, skin growth, skin regeneration, spina bifida, tissue engineering,
Tissue Engineering. Part A
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Department of Gynaecology & Obstetrics

Oostendorp, C. (Corien), Geutjes, P.J, Smit, F. (Frank), Tiemessen, D.M, Polman, S. (Sjoerd), Abbawi, A. (Aya), … van Kuppevelt, T.H. (2021). Sustained Postnatal Skin Regeneration upon Prenatal Application of Functionalized Collagen Scaffolds. Tissue Engineering. Part A, 27(1-2), 10–25. doi:10.1089/ten.tea.2019.0234