Reconstituted 3-dimensional human skin as a novel in vitro model for studies of carcinogenesis

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1999 Jan 8;254(1):49-53. doi: 10.1006/bbrc.1998.9821.


EpiDerm (MatTek Co., MA) is a reconstituted human skin equivalent which exhibits morphological and growth characteristics similar to human skin. This model has previously been utilized to evaluate the cytotoxicity and irritant potential of various cosmetic and household products. In this study, we show for the first time that EpiDerm can be used successfully to evaluate the genotoxicity of different types of known carcinogenic agents such as benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), ultraviolet B radiation (UVB), ultraviolet A radiation (UVA), and psoralen-ultraviolet A radiation (PUVA) at the molecular level. The topical application of 50 microg/cm2 BaP to EpiDerm resulted in the accumulation of BaP-DNA adducts and c-fos and p53 proteins as evidenced by immunohistochemical localization. Similarly, exposure to UVB (50 mJ/cm2) and UVA (2.5 J/cm2) enhanced the epidermal expression of c-fos and p53 proteins in the human skin equivalent. PUVA treatment of EpiDerm, however, resulted in the formation of both DNA-8-MOP adducts and augmented expression of c-fos and p53 proteins. Most of these changes reached a peak 8 h after the treatments except in the case of UVA where maximum changes in the expression of c-fos and p53 proteins were observed 24 h after treatment. These results are similar to those previously reported in human and murine skin following exposure to BaP, UVB, UVA, or PUVA indicating that human skin equivalents can be used as a convenient and cost-effective alternative to animal testing for assessing the genotoxicity and mechanism of action of mutagens/carcinogens in human skin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Culture Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / analysis
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Skin / physiopathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / analysis


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53