Human skin equivalents

Principal investigator

Dr. A. El Ghalbzouri 

Human skin equivalents (HSE) are three-dimensional systems that are engineered by seeding fibroblasts into a three-dimensional dermal matrix. After specific culture conditions a HSE is formed that recapitulates most of the in vivo characteristics and in which cellular processes may be normalized compared to the conventional monolayer cultures. HSE are therefore an attractive tool to study cell-cell, cell-matrix, dermal-epidermal interactions and other processes that are involved in epidermal morphogenesis. In addition the HSE are also an excellent tool to mimic diseased skin disorders in vitro (e.g. Epidermolysis Bullosa Simplex and Squamous Cell Carcinoma) in order to test therapeutics.

culture unit for reconstructed skin A  Cross section of the cultured skin B

Figure 1: Shown is a (A) and a cross section of the cultured skin (B).

Key publications

  1. El Ghalbzouri et al., Replacement of animal-derived collagen matrix by human fibroblast-derived dermal matrix for human skin equivalent products. Biomaterials. 30(1):71-8. 2009
  2. El Ghalbzouri et al., Leiden reconstructed human epidermal model as a tool for the evaluation of the skin corrosion and irritation potential according to the ECVAM guidelines. Toxicol In Vitro. 22(5):1311-20. 2008
  3. Commandeur S et al., An in vitro three-dimensional model of primary human cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. Exp Dermatol. 18(10):849-56. 2009
  4. El Ghalbzouri et al., Basement membrane reconstruction in human skin equivalents is regulated by fibroblasts and/or exogenously activated keratinocytes. J Invest Dermatol. 124(1):79-86. 2005
  5. El Ghalbzouri et al., Recessive epidermolysis bullosa simplex phenotype reproduced in vitro: ablation of keratin 14 is partially compensated by keratin 17. Am J Pathol. 163(5):1771-9. 2003