Engineering a Multilayered Skin Equivalent: The Importance of Endogenous Extracellular Matrix Maturation to Provide Robustness and Reproducibility
Human skin equivalents (HSEs) are a valuable tool for both academic and industrial laboratories to further the understanding of skin physiology and associated diseases. Over the last few decades, there have been many advances in the development of HSEs that successfully recapitulate the structure of human skin in vitro; however a main limitation is variability due to the use of complex protocols and exogenous extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. We have developed a robust and unique full-thickness skin equivalent that is highly reproducible due to the use of a consistent scaffold, commercially available cells, and defined low-serum media. The Alvetex® scaffold technology allows fibroblasts to produce their own endogenous ECM proteins within the scaffold, which alleviates the need for exogenous collagen, and supports the differentiation and stratification of the epidermis. Our full-thickness skin equivalent is generated using a detailed step-by-step protocol, which sequentially forms the multilayered structure of human skin in vitro. This model can be adapted for many downstream applications such as disease modeling and testing of active compounds for cosmetics.
Key wordsSkin equivalent Organotypic culture Alvetex® scaffold Skin tissue engineering Endogenous extracellular matrix deposition
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