Engineering of a Human Skin Equivalent

  • Published : 2003.11.01


Human skin equivalents, also designated as cultured skin substitute (Boyce and Warden, 2002) or organotypic co-cultures (Maas-Szabowski et al., 1999, 2000, 2003), are three-dimensional systems that are engineered by seeding fibroblasts into a three-dimensional dermal matrix. Such a dermal equivalent is then subsequently seeded with human keratinocytes. After cell attachment, the culture is kept first under submerged condition to allow keratinocyte proliferation. Thereafter, the culture is lifted the air-liquid interface (A/L) to expose the epidermal compartment to the air, and to further induce keratinocyte differentiation. During the air-exposure, nutrients from the medium will diffuse through the underlying dermal substrate towards the epidermal compartment and support keratinocyte proliferation and differentiation. Under these conditions, a HSE is formed that shows high similarity with the native tissue from which it was derived (Figure 1) (Bell et at., 1981; Boyce et al., 1988; Ponec et al., 1997;El Ghalbzouri et al.., 2002).