Human eccrine sweat gland cells can reconstitute a stratified epidermis

J Invest Dermatol. 2010 Aug;130(8):1996-2009. doi: 10.1038/jid.2010.83. Epub 2010 Apr 8.


Eccrine sweat glands are generally considered to be a possible epidermal stem cell source. Here we compared the multilayered epithelia formed by epidermal keratinocytes and those formed by eccrine sweat gland cells. We demonstrated both in vitro and in vivo the capability of human eccrine sweat gland cells to form a stratified interfollicular epidermis substitute on collagen hydrogels. This is substantiated by the following findings: (1) a stratified epidermis consisting of 10-12 cell layers is formed by sweat gland cells; (2) a distinct stratum corneum develops and is maintained after transplantation onto immuno-incompetent rats; (3) proteins such as filaggrin, loricrin, involucrin, envoplakin, periplakin, and transglutaminases I and III match with the pattern of the normal human skin; (4) junctional complexes and hemidesmosomes are readily and regularly established; (5) cell proliferation in the basal layer reaches homeostatic levels; (6) the sweat gland-derived epidermis is anchored by hemidesmosomes within a well-developed basal lamina; and (7) palmo-plantar or mucosal markers are not expressed in the sweat gland-derived epidermis. These data suggest that human eccrine sweat glands are an additional source of keratinocytes that can generate a stratified epidermis. Our findings raise the question of the extent to which the human skin is repaired and/or permanently renewed by eccrine sweat gland cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Desmosomes / physiology
  • Epidermal Cells*
  • Epidermis / physiology
  • Epidermis / ultrastructure
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / ultrastructure
  • Filaggrin Proteins
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immunocompetence
  • Infant
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / ultrastructure
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Rats
  • Skin Transplantation*
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / ultrastructure
  • Sweat Glands / cytology*
  • Sweat Glands / physiology
  • Sweat Glands / ultrastructure
  • Swiss 3T3 Cells / cytology
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous*


  • Biomarkers
  • FLG protein, human
  • Filaggrin Proteins