Dynamic Culture Substrates That Mimic the Topography of the Epidermal-Dermal Junction

Tissue Eng Part A. 2019 Feb;25(3-4):214-223. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2018.0125. Epub 2018 Dec 28.


In human skin the junction between the epidermis and dermis undulates. Epidermal stem cells pattern according to their position relative to those undulations. Here we describe a rig in which epidermal cells are cultured on a collagen-coated poly(d,l-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) membrane. When a vacuum is applied the membrane is induced to undulate. Stem cells cluster in response to the vacuum, whereas differentiating cells do not. Rho kinase inhibition results in loss of clustering, suggesting a role for Rho family members in the process. This dynamic platform is a new tool for investigating changes in the skin with age and disease.

Keywords: dynamic substrate; human epidermal–dermal junction; keratinocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible*
  • Dermis / cytology
  • Dermis / metabolism*
  • Epidermis / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism*
  • Membranes, Artificial*
  • Mice
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*


  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible
  • Membranes, Artificial