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Biomaterials. 2009 Jan;30(1):71-8. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2008.09.002. Epub 2008 Oct 5.

Replacement of animal-derived collagen matrix by human fibroblast-derived dermal matrix for human skin equivalent products.

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Department of Dermatology, Leiden University Medical Center, 2300 RC Leiden, The Netherlands.


Reconstructed human skin equivalents (HSEs) are representative models of human skin and widely used for research purposes and clinical applications. Traditional methods to generate HSEs are based on the seeding of human keratinocytes onto three-dimensional human fibroblast-populated non-human collagen matrices. Current HSEs have a limited lifespan of approximately 8 weeks, rendering them unsuitable for long-term studies. Here we present a new generation of HSEs being fully composed of human components and which can be cultured up to 20 weeks. This model is generated on a primary human fibroblast-derived dermal matrix. Pro-collagen type I secretion by human fibroblasts stabilized during long-term culture, providing a continuous and functional human dermal matrix. In contrast to rat-tail collagen-based HSEs, the present fibroblast-derived matrix-based HSEs contain more continuity in the number of viable cell layers in long-term cultures. In addition, these new skin models exhibit normal differentiation and proliferation, based on expression of K10/K15, and K16/K17, respectively. Detection of collagen types IV and VII and laminin 332 was confined to the epidermal-dermal junction, as in native skin. The presence of hemidesmosomes and anchoring fibrils was demonstrated by electron microscopy. Finally, we show that the presented HSE contained a higher concentration of the normal moisturizing factor compared to rat-tail collagen-based skin models, providing a further representation of functional normal human skin in vitro. This study, therefore, demonstrates the role of the dermal microenvironment on epidermal regeneration and lifespan in vitro.

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