An improved and rapid method to construct skin equivalents from human hair follicles and fibroblasts

Exp Dermatol. 2001 Aug;10(4):264-71. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0625.2001.100406.x.


To produce sufficient amounts of high quality skin equivalents (SE), either allogenic for dermatopharmacological and dermatotoxicological studies or autologous for transplantation purposes, we established a rapid, easy and cost effective three-dimensional SE model on the basis of human dermal fibroblasts, collagen and freshly plucked hair follicles. Acidic liquid collagen was polymerized with sodium hydroxide in the presence of fibroblasts to form a dermal equivalent (DE) resembling normal human dermis. At 24 h later, freshly plucked hair follicles were implanted into the surface of these DEs after cutting their bulbs off. Another 48 h later, the surface of the SEs was lifted to the air-liquid interface. Fourteen days after implantation, outgrowing keratinocytes from the outer root sheath of the hair follicles completely covered the surface of the SE and built a fully developed, multi-layered and cornified epidermis. Histology and immunofluorescence studies with specific antibodies directed against components of keratinocytes, fibroblasts, cell-adhesion molecules, different extracellular matrix and basement membrane proteins revealed the similarity of our three-dimensional SEs to the in vivo situation in normal human skin. Using autologous cell sources and cell culture media enriched with serum from the respective cell donor, it will be possible to use these SEs for autologous transplantation, thereby reducing the risk of transplant rejection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dermatology / methods*
  • Epidermal Cells
  • Fibroblasts*
  • Hair Follicle* / cytology
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Reference Values
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Skin, Artificial*
  • Time Factors