Two-Dimensional Cellular and Three-Dimensional Bio-Printed Skin Models to Screen Topical-Use Compounds for Irritation Potential

Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2020 Feb 21:8:109. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2020.00109. eCollection 2020.


Assessing skin irritation potential is critical for the safety evaluation of topical drugs and other consumer products such as cosmetics. The use of advanced cellular models, as an alternative to replace animal testing in the safety evaluation for both consumer products and ingredients, is already mandated by law in the European Union (EU) and other countries. However, there has not yet been a large-scale comparison of the effects of topical-use compounds in different cellular skin models. This study assesses the irritation potential of topical-use compounds in different cellular models of the skin that are compatible with high throughput screening (HTS) platforms. A set of 451 topical-use compounds were first tested for cytotoxic effects using two-dimensional (2D) monolayer models of primary neonatal keratinocytes and immortalized human keratinocytes. Forty-six toxic compounds identified from the initial screen with the monolayer culture systems were further tested for skin irritation potential on reconstructed human epidermis (RhE) and full thickness skin (FTS) three-dimensional (3D) tissue model constructs. Skin irritation potential of the compounds was assessed by measuring tissue viability, trans-epithelial electrical resistance (TEER), and secretion of cytokines interleukin 1 alpha (IL-1α) and interleukin 18 (IL-18). Among known irritants, high concentrations of methyl violet and methylrosaniline decreased viability, lowered TEER, and increased IL-1α secretion in both RhE and FTS models, consistent with irritant properties. However, at low concentrations, these two compounds increased IL-18 secretion without affecting levels of secreted IL-1α, and did not reduce tissue viability and TEER, in either RhE or FTS models. This result suggests that at low concentrations, methyl violet and methylrosaniline have an allergic potential without causing irritation. Using both HTS-compatible 2D cellular and 3D tissue skin models, together with irritation relevant activity endpoints, we obtained data to help assess the irritation effects of topical-use compounds and identify potential dermal hazards.

Keywords: Toxicology in the 21st Century; bio-printing; full thickness skin tissue; high throughput screen; reconstructed human epidermis; skin irritation; skin sensitization.