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Curr Biol. 2003 May 13;13(10):849-53.

Reconstituted skin from murine embryonic stem cells.

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INSERM U385, 06107 Nice, France.


Embryonic stem (ES) cell lines can be expanded indefinitely in culture while maintaining their potential to differentiate into any cell type. During embryonic development, the skin forms as a result of reciprocal interactions between mesoderm and ectoderm. Here, we report the in vitro differentiation and enrichment of keratinocytes from murine ES cells seeded on extracellular matrix (ECM) in the presence of Bone Morphogenic Protein-4 (BMP-4) or ascorbate. The enriched preparation of keratinocytes was able to form an epidermal equivalent composed of a stratified epithelium when cultured at the air-liquid interface on a collagen-coated acellular substratum. Interestingly, an underlying cellular compartment that belongs to the fibroblast lineage was systematically formed between the reconstituted epidermis and the inert membrane. The resulting tissue displayed morphological patterns similar to normal embryonic skin, as evidenced by light and transmission electron microscopy. Immunohistochemical studies revealed expression patterns of cytokeratins, basement membrane (BM) proteins and late differentiation markers of epidermis, as well as fibroblast markers, similar to native skin. The results demonstrate the capacity of ES cells to reconstitute in vitro a fully differentiated skin. This ES-derived bioengineered skin provides a powerful tool for studying the molecular mechanisms controlling epidermal and dermal commitments.

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