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Barrier properties of an N/TERT based human skin equivalent

Human skin equivalents (HSEs) can be a valuable tool to study aspects of human skin, including the skin barrier, or to perform chemical or toxicological screenings.

van Drongelen, V.; Danso, M.O.; Mulder, A.; Mieremet, A.; van Smeden, J.; Bouwstra, J.A.; El Ghalbzouri, A.
25 April 2014
Online publications (DOI)

HSEs are three-dimensional skin models that are usually established using primary keratinocytes and closely mimic human skin. The use of primary keratinocytes has several drawbacks, including a limited in vitro life span and large donor-donor variation. This makes them less favourable for in vitro toxicity screenings. Usage of an established keratinocyte cell line circumvents these drawbacks and allows the generation of easy-to-generate and reproducible HSEs, which can be used for pharmacological and/or toxicological screenings. For such screenings, a proper barrier function is required. In this study we investigated the barrier properties of HSEs established with the keratinocyte cell line N/TERT (N-HSEs). N-HSEs showed comparable tissue morphology and expression of several epidermal proteins compared to HSEs established with primary keratinocytes. Our results clearly demonstrate that N-HSEs contain several SC barrier properties similar to HSEs, including the presence of the long periodicity phase and a comparable SC permeability, but show also some differences in lipid composition. Nonetheless, the similarities in barrier properties makes N/TERT cells a promising alternative for primary keratinocytes to generate HSEs.

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