Traditional skin grafting techniques are effective but limited methods of skin replacement. Autologous transplantation of rapidly cultured keratinocytes is successful for epidermal regeneration, but the current gold-standard technique requires mouse fibroblast feeders and serum-rich media, with serum-free systems and dermal fibroblast (DF) feeders performing relatively poorly. Here, we investigated the capacity of human hair follicle dermal cells to act as alternative supports for keratinocyte growth. Dermal papilla (DP) dermal sheath (DS), DF and 3T3 cells were used as inactivated feeder cells for human keratinocyte coculture. Under conditions favouring dermal cells, proliferation of keratinocytes in the presence of either DS or DP cells was significantly enhanced compared with DF cells, at levels comparable to keratinocytes cultured under gold-standard conditions. Secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC) expression increased DS and DP cells relative to DFs; however, further experiments did not demonstrate a role in keratinocyte support.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S.