Melanocytes from the outer root sheath of human hair and epidermal melanocytes display improved melanotic features in the niche provided by cGEL, oligomer-cross-linked gelatin-based hydrogel

J Biomed Mater Res A. 2016 Dec;104(12):3115-3126. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.35832. Epub 2016 Aug 23.


Non-invasively based cell treatments of depigmented skin disorders are largely limited by means of cell sampling as much as by their routes of application. Human melanocytes cultivated from the outer root sheath of hair follicle (HUMORS) are among the cell types that fit the non-invasive concept by being cultivated out of a minimal sample: hair root. Eventual implementation of HUMORS as a graft essentially depends on a choice of suitable biocompatible, biodegradable carrier that would mechanically and biologically support the cells as transient niche and facilitate their engraftment. Hence, the melanotic features of follicle-derived HUMORS and normal human epidermal melanocytes (NHEM) in engineered scaffolds based on collagen, the usual leading candidate for graft material for a variety of skin transplantation procedures were tested. Hydrogel named cGEL, an enzymatically degraded bovine gelatin chemically cross-linked with an oligomeric copolymer synthesized from pentaerythritol diacrylate monostearate (PEDAS), maleic anhydride (MA), and N-isopropylacrylamide (NiPAAm) or diacetone acrylamide (DAAm), was used. The cGEL provided a friendly three-dimensional (3D) cultivation environment for human melanocytes with increased melanin content of the 3D cultures in comparison to Collagen Cell Carrier® (CCC), a commercially available bovine decellularized collagen membrane, and electrospun polycaprolactone (PCL) matrices. One of the cGEL variants fostered not only a dramatic increase in melanin production but also a significant enhancement of melanotic gene PAX3, PMEL, TYR, and MITF expression in comparison to that of both CCC full-length collagen and PCL scaffolds, providing a clearly superior melanocyte niche that may be a suitable candidate for grafting carriers. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 104A: 3115-3126, 2016.

Keywords: 3D culture; Vitiligo; collagen; melanocytes; outer root sheath.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acrylamides / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry*
  • Cattle
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cross-Linking Reagents / chemistry*
  • Gelatin / chemistry*
  • Hair Follicle / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogel, Polyethylene Glycol Dimethacrylate / chemistry*
  • Melanins / metabolism
  • Melanocytes / cytology*
  • Melanocytes / metabolism


  • Acrylamides
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Cross-Linking Reagents
  • Melanins
  • Hydrogel, Polyethylene Glycol Dimethacrylate
  • Gelatin
  • N-isopropylacrylamide