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Histochem Cell Biol. 2000 Apr;113(4):265-77.

A preformed basal lamina alters the metabolism and distribution of hyaluronan in epidermal keratinocyte "organotypic" cultures grown on collagen matrices.

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Department of Anatomy, University of Kuopio, Finland.


A rat epidermal keratinocyte (REK) line which exhibits histodifferentiation nearly identical to the native epidermis when cultured at an air-liquid interface was used to study the metabolism of hyaluronan, the major intercellular macromolecule present in basal and spinous cell layers. Two different support matrices were used: reconstituted collagen fibrils with and without a covering basal lamina previously deposited by canine kidney cells. REKs formed a stratified squamous, keratinized epithelium on both support matrices. Hyaluronan and its receptor, CD44, colocalized in the basal and spinous layers similar to their distribution in the native epidermis. Most (approximately 75%) of the hyaluronan was retained in the epithelium when a basal lamina was present while most (approximately 80%) diffused out of the epithelium in its absence. While REKs on the two matrices synthesized hyaluronan at essentially the same rate, catabolism of this macromolecule was much higher in the epithelium on the basal lamina (half-life approximately 1 day, similar to its half-life in native human epidermis). The formation of a true epidermal compartment in culture bounded by the cornified layer on the surface and the basal lamina subjacent to the basal cells provides a good model within which to study epidermal metabolism.

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