Send to

Choose Destination
J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 2006 Sep;11(1):93-105.

Epidermal homeostasis in long-term scaffold-enforced skin equivalents.

Author information

Division of Genetics of Skin Carcinogenesis, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany.


Epidermal homeostasis is understood as the maintenance of epidermal tissue structure and function by a fine tuned regulatory mechanism balancing proliferation and cell loss by desquamation and apoptosis. The lack of appropriate experimental models has largely prevented a better understanding of the regulatory mechanisms controlling epidermal tissue homeostasis in human skin. Keratinocyte culture studies had revealed a strict dependency of regular epidermal differentiation on dermal interactions only accomplishable in three-dimensional skin models. As major drawbacks, conventional models, employing collagen hydrogels as dermal equivalents (DEs) exhibit a rather poor stability and limited lifespan. Here, we present an improved stabilized in vitro-model for long-term growth and differentiation of keratinocytes providing the basis for tissue homeostasis. Keratinocytes were grown on DEs reinforced by modified hyaluronic acid fibers (Hyalograft-3D) and colonized with skin fibroblasts, producing genuine dermis-type matrix. These skin equivalents (SEs) develop superior epidermal architecture with regular differentiation and ultrastructure. Critical aspects of differentiation, still unbalanced in early stages, are renormalized, most strikingly the coexpression of keratins K1/K10, downregulation of regeneration-associated keratins (K16), and restriction of K15 to the basal layer. The strict localization of integrins to basal cells underlining restored tissue polarity, the drop of keratinocyte growth rates towards physiological levels and the rapid formation of a mature basement membrane with abundant anchoring fibrils are altogether features fulfilling the criteria of tissue homeostasis. Therefore, these scaffold-based SEs not only allow for studying homeostasis control but also for the first time provide proper experimental conditions for establishing a stem cell niche in vitro.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center