Skin Transplantation

Billingham and Medawar (7) first described the technique most commonly used for skin transplantation.

1. Sacrifice an appropriate donor mouse by a schedule 1 method.

2. Make a circular incision, through the full thickness of the skin, at the base of the tail and a second longitudinal incision from the base towards the end of the tail.

3. Peel the skin edges apart using toothed forceps and place the excised skin into a 6-cm diameter Petri dish filled with phosphate buffered saline (PBS).

4. Cut the excised tail skin into pieces approx 0.5 x 0.5 cm. Each tail should provide enough skin for approx 10 grafts.

5. Anesthetize the recipient and swab the thorax with 70% alcohol.

6. Prepare the graft bed by excising a circle of skin approx 0.75-cm diameter in the area between the shoulder and costal margin.

7. Place the graft on the graft bed and hold in place by covering with a single piece of paraffin gauze, large enough to cover the graft site (approx 1-1.5 x 1-1.5 cm).

8. Wrap a strip of gauze swab (approx 1.5-2 x 6 cm) around the thorax, covering the graft site.

9. Soak a strip of plaster of Paris bandage in water and wrap completely around the thorax, over the gauze swab.

10. Bring the ends of the plaster of Paris strip together over the back of the animal, trim to leave a 3- to 5-mm "join" standing proud of the animal and clip together using two wound clips. The bandage should be applied sufficiently tightly to ensure that it cannot be removed but great care must be taken to ensure that it is not so tight that, as it hardens, it prevents thoracic wall movement, resulting in asphyxiation.

11. After 7 d, remove the bandage and score the grafts daily until rejection. Ideally this should be performed blinded by the same observer. A typical graft scoring scheme is as follows: lush hair growth (++); graft intact with no evidence of necrosis (+); graft showing some necrosis (±); and >90% necrosis (-). The day of rejection is recorded as the first day when necrosis of >90% is observed.

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