A Comparison of Scaffold-free and Scaffold-based Reconstructed Human Skin Models as Alternatives to Animal Use
polymeric scaffolds, is compared with the less-studied cell self-assembly approach, where the cells are coaxed to synthesise their own extracellular matrix (ECM). The resulting full-thickness human skin substitutes were analysed by means of histological and immunohistochemical analyses. It was found that both the scaffold-free and the scaffold-based skin equivalents successfully mimicked the functionality and morphology of native skin, with complete epidermal differentiation (as determined by the expression of filaggrin), the presence of a continuous basement membrane expressing collagen VII, and new ECM deposition by dermal fibroblasts. On the other hand, the scaffold-free model had a thicker epidermis and a significantly higher number of Ki67-positive proliferative cells, indicating a higher capacity for self-renewal, as compared to the scaffold-based model.