Elastin expression in a newly developed full-thickness skin equivalent

Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2007;20(2):85-95. doi: 10.1159/000097655. Epub 2006 Dec 1.


The resilience of the human skin is mediated by elastic fibres mainly consisting of fibrillins and elastin. In order to establish a model system to study the impact of cosmetic and pharmaceutical compounds on the elastic system in vitro, we analyzed the expression of elastin in a newly developed full-thickness skin model. After a 5-week cultivation period the skin model developed a fully differentiated epidermis including a stratum corneum. The dermis contains fibroblasts embedded in extracellular matrix proteins. The models were viable until at least 51 days at the air-liquid interface (ALI) culture. Using immunohistochemistry we detected elastin first on day 7 of ALI. With proceeding culture time, elastin-positive fibres of different lengths and distribution patterns accumulated in the dermal compartment. Elastin mRNA expression started on day 7 of ALI, increased until day 10 and then dropped to a level comparable to that of day 7. Our results demonstrate that in our full-thickness skin model an in vivo-like elastic system, which clearly mimics at least two subsets of dermal elastic fibres, is generated. This physiological property favours the model as a promising animal-free approach to study those processes leading to an environment- and age-dependent decrease in skin elasticity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Collagen
  • Elastin / biosynthesis*
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / metabolism*


  • Collagen
  • Elastin