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J Dermatol Sci. 2002 May;29(1):26-34.

Differences in collagen production between normal and keloid-derived fibroblasts in serum-media co-culture with keloid-derived keratinocytes.

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  • 1Department of Plastic Surgery, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore.


Keloids are characterized by the deposition of excessive extracellular-matrix collagen by abnormal fibroblasts in response to cutaneous injury. Studies to date have largely concentrated on the role of the keloid fibroblast in the pathogenesis of this lesion. Recent studies have highlighted the important concept of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions in normal skin biology. Extrapolating this to keloids in two recent serum-free in vitro studies, we demonstrated increased growth and proliferation, as well as induction of keloid-like collagen secretory characteristics in normal fibroblasts co-cultured with keloid-derived keratinocytes. Most fibroblast culture work to date has been performed in nutrient and growth factor-rich serum media. To investigate how a serum co-culture system might influence epithelial-mesenchymal interactions, [3H] proline incorporation was examined in normal and keloid fibroblasts co-cultured in serum with keratinocytes derived either from normal skin or keloid tissue. Results showed increased [3H] proline incorporation when normal fibroblasts were co-cultured with keloid keratinocytes, which was significantly increased when keloid fibroblasts were co-cultured with keloid keratinocytes. Taken with previous results, this study demonstrates a good correlation between both serum and serum-free co-culture systems, and supports the significance of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions in keloid pathogenesis.

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