Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Human skin equivalents: understanding the lipid biosynthesis in the skin

There is considerable need for improved skin models to develop safe and efficient drugs for skin delivery as well as for cosmetic and chemical product testing on the skin.

One of the most sophisticated 3D-models are the Human Skin Equivalents (HSE’s) generated from isolated skin cells. Although these models reproduce many human skin properties, these models have an impaired skin barrier. The barrier resembles a brick and mortar structure from enucleated corneocytes (bricks) that are embedded in a lipid matrix (mortar). The lipids are a crucial aspect of the skin barrier. There are three main lipid classes present in an approximately equal molar certain ratio in healthy skin. These are the ceramides (CERs), free fatty acids (FFAs) and cholesterol. In the HSE’s this lipid content shows important deviations from that in native human skin. This results in an aberrant lipid organization and subsequently a reduced barrier.

The aim of this project is therefore to normalize lipid composition and organization of these models. 

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