Archives of Dermatological Research

, Volume 296, Issue 5, pp 203–211 | Cite as

A simple reconstructed human epidermis: preparation of the culture model and utilization in in vitro studies

  • Y. Poumay
  • F. Dupont
  • S. Marcoux
  • M. Leclercq-Smekens
  • M. Hérin
  • A. Coquette
Original Paper


The preparation of a reconstructed human epidermis is described with examples of its utilization in in vitro studies. The model was obtained by culturing normal human keratinocytes at high cell density for 14 days in serum-free and high calcium (1.5 mM) medium on an inert polycarbonate filter at the air-liquid interface. These stratified cultures showed histological features similar to those observed in vivo in the epidermis: a proliferating basal layer and differentiating spinous, granular, and cornified layers. Electron microscopy illustrated lamellar bodies, junctions and keratohyalin granules. Immunofluorescent localization of epidermal markers (keratins 14 and 10, involucrin and filaggrin) revealed typical differentiation. This in vitro reconstructed tissue was used in studies of toxic effects of chemicals. The modelled tissue showed progressive cytotoxicity of a skin irritant (benzalkonium chloride) and a sensitizer (dinitrochlorobenzene) as assessed by MTT assay. Moreover, differential release of interleukin-1α and interleukin-8 were measured after 20 h of incubation allowing the irritant to be distinguished from the sensitizer. Permeation studies indicated efficient barrier function of the reconstructed epidermis, as well as metabolizing properties towards hormones. This model can be custom-made and is potentially useful for studies involving keratinocytes in the epidermis, in basic science, dermatology or toxicology.


Reconstructed human epidermis Keratinocyte Barrier function Irritant Sensitizer 



The authors wish to thank Dr. B. Bienfait (Clinique Saint-Luc, Bouge) for providing samples of normal skin. The occasional technical assistance of R. Déom, D. Van Vlaender, F. Herphelin and C. Devignon is gratefully acknowledged. S. Marcoux was in receipt of a fellowship from the Fonds pour la Formation à la Recherche dans l’Industrie et l’Agriculture (FRIA). This work was partly supported by grant 2.4.506.01F from F.R.F.C. to Y. Poumay.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. Poumay
    • 1
  • F. Dupont
    • 1
  • S. Marcoux
    • 1
  • M. Leclercq-Smekens
    • 1
  • M. Hérin
    • 1
  • A. Coquette
    • 2
  1. 1.Département Histologie-EmbryologieFacultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la PaixNamurBelgium
  2. 2.SGS Biopharma S.A.WavreBelgium

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