Outcome of Burns Treated With Autologous Cultured Proliferating Epidermal Cells: A Prospective Randomized Multicenter Intrapatient Comparative Trial

Dutch Outback Study Group1

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Standard treatment for large burns is transplantation with meshed split skin autografts (SSGs). A disadvantage of this treatment is that healing is accompanied by scar formation. Application of autologous epidermal cells (keratinocytes and melanocytes) may be a suitable therapeutic alternative, since this may enhance wound closure and improve scar quality. A prospective, multicenter randomized clinical trial was performed in 40 adult patients with acute full thickness burns. On two comparable wound areas, conventional treatment with SSGs was compared to an experimental treatment consisting of SSGs in combination with cultured autologous epidermal cells (ECs) seeded in a collagen carrier. The primary outcome measure was wound closure after 5-7 days. Secondary outcomes were safety aspects and scar quality measured by graft take, scar score (POSAS), skin colorimeter (DermaSpectrometer) and elasticity (Cutometer). Wound epithelialization after 5-7 days was significantly better for the experimental treatment (71%) compared to the standard treatment (67%) (p = 0.034, Wilcoxon), whereas the take rates of the grafts were similar. No related adverse events were recorded. Scar quality was evaluated at 3 (n = 33) and 12 (n = 28) months. The POSAS of the observer after 3 and 12 months and of the patient after 12 months were significantly better for the experimental area. Improvements between 12% and 23% (p ≤ 0.010, Wilcoxon) were detected for redness, pigmentation, thickness, relief, and pliability. Melanin index at 3 and 12 months and erythema index at 12 months were closer to normal skin for the experimental treatment than for conventional treatment (p ≤ 0.025 paired samples t-test). Skin elasticity showed significantly higher elasticity (p = 0.030) in the experimental area at 3 months follow-up. We showed a safe application and significant improvements of wound healing and scar quality in burn patients after treatment with ECs versus SSGs only. The relevance of cultured autologous cells in treatment of extensive burns is supported by our current findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-448
Number of pages12
JournalCell Transplantation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • age factors
  • gender factors
  • burns
  • pathology
  • cell proliferation
  • cultured cells
  • cicatrix
  • epidermal cells
  • epidermis
  • transplantation
  • skin
  • skin transplantation methods
  • artificial skin
  • cytology
  • autologous transplant
  • wound healing


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